From The Mighty
By Elizabeth Cassidy
March 21, 2018
On Friday in Washington D.C., about 50 members of the disability rights group ADAPT set up outside the residence of Dr. Scott Gottlieb, commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration. The group is protesting the use of shock devices as “treatment” for people with disabilities at the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center (JRC) in Canton, Massachusetts. ADAPT said in a statement they will not leave until Gottlieb takes action.
The electric shocks to the skin are used to deter aggressive or self-injurious behaviors by people with disabilities — the “treatment” is also known as “graduated electronic decelerator,” and the JRC is the only place in the U.S. using this practice, according to the Washington Post.
The Mighty reached out to JRC for comment and have not heard back.
The JRC is a day and residential school, according to its website, and treats primarily children. The center’s treatment programs are based on Applied Behavioral Analysis, which is a common form of therapy for people, especially children, on the autism spectrum.
BA is heavily criticized by the autistic community, especially adults who have had ABA therapy as kids. They state that ABA is cruel and an attempt to make them “normal” instead of accepting neurodiversity.
In 2016, the FDA proposed banning the use of electric shock devices because the administration “determined that these devices present an unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury.” Despite this determination, the proposed regulation has not been finalized and sits in limbo, allowing the JRC to continue its use of the devices.
A spokesperson for the FDA told The Mighty the FDA is working on finalizing the proposed ban but cannot give a time on when the ban would be finalized.
ADAPT said in a statement that they are through waiting for the FDA and Gottlieb to act on this issue. ADAPT has tried to speak to Gottlieb in the past and was met with arrests instead.
“We have tried time and again to get them to do the right thing and they refuse to do anything,” Dawn Russell, a member of ADAPT, said in a statement. “They have had these regulations done for two years now. We are not going to let them put this off any longer! There is no way they would tolerate these horrors being perpetrated against non-disabled people.”
ADAPT members at Gottlieb’s residence, which is a condominium, are singing and chanting, “Gottlieb, Gottlieb, do your job! Gottlieb, Gottlieb stop the shock!” Members are also providing information to the commissioner’s neighbors, some of which have encouraged the members and others who have complained and called the police.
ADAPT members also went to the White House on Monday to ask President Trump to step in and help ban the use of these shock devices.
“We will not be ignored,” Mike Oxford, an organizer of Kansas ADAPT, said in the statement. “We are in this fight for members of our community who are being treated in the most inhumane ways imaginable. We should be able to count on our government to protect all disabled Americans from torture.”