How Treatment Becomes Torture
Brenda Rothman at Mama Be Good explains how treatment evolved into torture at the Judge Rotenberg Center:
A place that parents willingly take their autistic children. A place that "educates" children by giving them electric shocks. A place where giving a child ten electric shocks a day is seen as routine. Where thirty-one electric shocks in one six-hour period is defended as necessary. Where children are shocked for "aggressive behaviors" like refusing to remove a coat or tensing one's body. Where electric shocking is defended just because it's "difficult to have" an autistic child and "difficult to design a treatment plan" for autistic children. Where doctors, parents, and courts view electric shocks as acceptable "treatment" of autism. Of children.
How did we get here? It happens in small steps that each of us take.
It starts like this:
With the belief that the that the child is no longer there, stolen by a disease. A step that puts his humanity, his personhood, his rights at risk.
With the belief that autism dooms the child to a life of isolation and unhappiness. A step that makes us believe that any treatment is better than his natural path.
With the belief that the child doesn't know how to love. A step that leads us to believe that emotions are beyond his comprehension, so we distance ourselves from him.
With the idea that the child is incapable of understanding. A step that makes us think he has no interior life at all, so his thoughts and feelings don't exist.
With the idea that behavior, and behavior alone, matters. A step that makes us ignore the varied, rich meanings and ideas behind behavior. A step that leads us to believe that behavioral analysis is the only answer. And that anyone who claims to use behavioral analysis is acceptable.