“I never signed up for him to be tortured, terrorized and abused,” Cheryl McCollins told a jury on Tuesday. “I had no idea, no idea, that they tortured the children in the school.”
In February, we reported Ms. McCollins' plight and her calling for the public viewing of startling footage of her then 18 year-old son, Andre, receiving 31 electroshocks at Judge Rotenburg Center for the disabled (JRC) for not removing his jacket.
In 2002, Andre, now 27, had been zapped, restrained, sprawled out face down with a helmet, and shocked another 30 times anytime he flinched or screamed out in pain. The aversive shock "treatment" continued all day with no food, water, or bathroom breaks.
When Cheryl visited her son, he was unresponsive and later rushed to the hospital where he was diagnosed with acute stress response.
McCollins is suing Canton, MA-based JRC and calling the treatment torture. Cheryl wanted the public to see this "therapy" as an unacceptable act of torture.
Of course, JRC fought vigorously to block the video release. A new Superior Court Judge on the case, Judge Barbara Dortch-Okara, refused JRC's repeated request allowing public-court viewing for the first time.
Cheryl also testified that the staff members were laughing as Andre was shocked.
JRC said Fox's coverage of the footage would make it impossible for JRC to receive a fair trial. You will soon see why.
Warning: Even this newsclip revealing moments of Andre's shock abuse is hard to watch.
Heidi Stevenson of Gaia Health downloaded JRC's handbook detailing what other "treatments" they fondly use to control handicapped and autistic children:
On pages 5 and 6 is the statement :Stronger or more restrictive or physical aversives. Examples are … overcorrection (requiring—with physical force if necessary—a student to repeat an action many times); spanks, pinches, or muscle squeezes; vapor spray to the face; brief cool shower; bad tastes; aromatic ammonia broken under the nose; imposing manual restraint such as the 'basket hold' for a period of time; mechanical restraints such as handcuffs and/or ankle cuffs; skin-shock; 'takedowns' (several staff forcing the student down to the floor and holding him/her there until he/she stops struggling); 'mat rolling' (rolling the individual in a mat or small rug for a period of time); and mechanical restraint. PRN injections by needle of psychotropic medications also have an aversive effect in addition to their pharmacological effects.
Unusual corporal punishment - face masks - ammonia inhalation - shackles - takedowns - submission locks - cold showers - foul tastes - spraying in the face like animals - rolling the kids into rugs - food deprivation - isolation - psychotropic drugs: all practices regarded as "therapy." What is this, the Guantanamo Correction Institute?
Actually, this practice is largely inspired by Skinner's Behavior Modification Model -- and it doesn't work! Parents would never be allowed to treat their autistic children in this manner . . . and who would want to?
The federally funded JRC is already responsible for many lawsuits and at least six patients, mainly children, have died under their watch!
Fox News reports that more of the footage is expected play as court testimony proceeds.
One reporter, in 2006, documented other JRC bizarre practices like hanging Mickey Mouse posters everywhere. And former head of JRC Mathew Israel (forced to step down after a different controversy in 2007) asking unresponsive patients to blow him a kiss -- patients featured in JRC's original promos who are still there and are in worse, catatonic conditions.
A quick search into Israel, his practices, and past opens up many a disturbing can of worms.
After California changed its aversive therapy laws, the school was forced to move to a friendlier state like Massachusetts.
Why is this place still open?
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Read other reports by Heather Callaghan here.
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