In response to “Patrick fights Rotenberg shock therapy decree” (Metro, Feb. 16), we, as parents of the children and adults at the Judge Rotenberg Center, believe that the state is again choosing a politically popular, uninformed opinion over the welfare of our vulnerable children.
The state claims that a 1987 consent order is no longer needed, but our children are in the same danger that they were in 1985 when the Commonwealth ordered the Rotenberg Center to stop using aversives. The treatment stopped, and students started mutilating themselves and attacking people again. We sued the Commonwealth; parents testified about all of the treatment and medications that were tried and failed before aversives. Experts testified how aversives stopped our children from hurting themselves, and how, for the first time, they allowed them to be educated and to interact with family and the community.
The court ruled that the state acted in bad faith in stopping aversives, finding aversives safe and the only effective treatment for some; these findings held up on appeal. The result was the consent order, which allows aversives if court-approved upon proof that there is no other effective treatment.
Torture is not a once-a-week two-second skin shock that feels like a hard pinch. Torture is children ripping clumps of their hair out until they’re bald, tearing their own teeth from their mouth, or banging their head until they have a stroke.
Parents must have the right to choose safe and effective treatment when nothing else has worked. The critics would force our children to be sedated with a cocktail of dangerous drugs and restrained all day. We will not give up on our children.
The author is writing on behalf of the parents association at the Judge Rotenberg Center.