Tuesday, May 04, 2010

What is the best treatment for emotionally disturbed students?

Why strap a back pack on them that zaps them whenever they disturb one of the counselors. Just like your dogs Invisible Fence, the pack will juice them good when they step out of line.
Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI) has filed a report and urgent appeal with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture alleging that the Judge Rotenberg Center for the disabled, located in Massachusetts, violates the UN Convention against Torture.

The rights group submitted their report this week, titled "Torture not Treatment: Electric Shock and Long-Term Restraint in the United States on Children and Adults with Disabilities at the Judge Rotenberg Center," after an in-depth investigation revealed use of restraint boards, isolation, food deprivation and electric shocks in efforts to control the behaviors of its disabled and emotionally troubled students.

Findings in the MDRI report include the center's practice of subjecting children to electric shocks on the legs, arms, soles of feet and torso -- in many cases for years -- as well as some for more than a decade. Electronic shocks are administered by remote-controlled packs attached to a child's back called a Graduated Electronic Decelerators (GEI).

The disabilities group notes that stun guns typically deliver three to four milliamps per shock. GEI packs, meanwhile, shock students with 45 milliamps -- more than ten times the amperage of a typical stun gun.

A former employee of the center told an investigator, "When you start working there, they show you this video which says the shock is 'like a bee sting' and that it does not really hurt the kids. One kid, you could smell the flesh burning, he had so many shocks. These kids are under constant fear, 24/7. They sleep with them on, eat with them on. It made me sick and I could not sleep. I prayed to God someone would help these kids."
Some may say this is the result of poor training but the reality is that the Judge Rotenberg Center and places like it, are not there to help the kids, they are warehouses. Places the families can leave their problem kids when they no longer want them. Titticut Follies for kids.

That's disgusting.
As someone who once worked as a teacher in a center for BD children, I am appalled. We had some seriously ill children in our care, but we never -- *ever* -- resorted to anything like this. The most we ever did was restrain a child who was physically out of control in a non-painful and temporary manner, then escort him to a safe place like an administrator's office where he could reflect on the fact that his classmates were having a fun time up in the classroom. Because that's how we controlled the kids -- by making sure they had a good time as long as they behaved appropriately, making sure they knew at all times what appropriate behavior was expected of them, what good things would happen if they displayed appropriate behavior, and what the consequences would be if they did not behave (generally loss of privileges such as not being able to play with the toys after finishing their work to acceptable standards).

Granted, I was lucky enough to be working with verbal children. But even with non-verbal autistic children engaging in self-mutilation activities that you must stop for the safety of the child, only temporary short-term use could be justified in response to that one specific behavior that is a danger to that child -- *not* as a blanket "punish the kid whenever he doesn't do what I want" measure.

Positive reinforcement *works*. All that punishment like electric shock does is make sadists chortle with glee, and teach children to be fearful and avoidant. It doesn't teach children appropriate behavior, and it doesn't make children want to display appropriate behavior, all it teaches children is that adults are sadists. As someone who has worked in that environment, I can say explicitly that there is nothing -- *NOTHING* -- that can justify what the Judge Rotenberg Center for the Disabled has done.

- Badtux the Former Special Ed Teacher Penguin

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