Council of Autism Service Providers
According to the Council of Autism Service Providers, "No. “Punishment,” as that term is used in ABA, is not bad. Unfortunately, though, that term is exploited by those who are misinformed about our practice. “Punishment” never involves retribution or harm to the recipient of services."
They made this statement in their frequently asked questions for behavior professionals. This statement is however false.
Judge Rotenberg Center
Providers at the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton, Massachusetts engage in the "designs and implements Applied Behavior Analysis (“ABA”) treatment plans." Their attorney states that they use "skin-shock."
Both the Council of Autism Service Providers and the Judge Rotenberg Center claim that punishment is "harmless" or "never involves retribution or harm."
The Founder Matthew Israel was forced to resign after destroying evidence to cover up the centers practices and misleading a grand jury. He was criminally indicted.
The centers "harmless" shocks led to a student being treated for first degree burns. These are minor children according to Forbes. One student was shocked for not taking off his coat. They tie and strap these children down.
To electrocyte someone is defined as "to kill or severely injure by electric shock." It is the opinion of the author that first degree burns are serious injuries that meet this definition. The author notes JRC disputes this.
United Nations and Personal Testimony Regarding the Judge Rotenberg Center
The United Nations disputes this claim that it is harmless. According Juan Mendez, the Special Rapporteur on Torture, "The use of electricity on anyone's body raises the question of whether this is therapeutic or whether it inflicts pain and suffering tantamount to torture in violation of international law,"
One student alleges, "I was burned many times, and I still have scars on my stomach from being repeatedly shocked there..." he continues with "The electrodes had actually burned into my skin. I experienced long term loss of sensation and numbness in my lower left leg, after getting a shock there. I felt searing pain all the way down to the bottom of my foot, and was left with no feeling in my skin from the knee down for about a year."
One teacher alleges, "I can testify to seeing bloody and crusty scabs all over student arms, legs, and torso, on numerous students, caused mostly by the GED-4, which was most evident when helping certain nonverbal students to sponge-bathe at school, called “self-care”. A number of the nonverbal students with whom I worked received 30 shocks in a day, including while tied to a restraint chair."
MotherJones classifies it "The School of Shock" and asks the question "How many times do you have to zap a child before it’s torture?"
According to the New York Magazine, a student was shocked 31 times.
Watch this video and see for yourself. Do you think this is torture?
The Judge Rotenberg Center has engaged in the practice of trying to censor people engaged in sharing their opinion of this horrifying practice. They do this by sending various legal threats.
A copy of various legal threats can be read below:
Association of Behavior Analysts International
Something interesting worth noting, the Executive Director of ABAI is Maria Malott. On the Board of Directors at the Judge Rotenberg Center is Richard Malott. Now this by itself could be a coincidence, however, both of these people also worked for Western Michigan University. While circumstantial, it is plausible to assume that they are related and that the possibility of a conflict of interest exists. Favoritism should not be a factor when considering the health of the population.
NewsBreak reached out to both people and did not hear back prior to publishing.
This year, two members of the program committee for the 2022 Convention resigned in protest to the Judge Rotenberg Center. You can read their letter below:
Behavior Analyst Certification Board
The Behavior Analyst Certification Board is used by many states to license behavior analysts. In order to get a license to practice the state requires you to be certified by this third party certification board.
The Behavior Analyst Certification Board certifies members of the Board of Directors, faculty, and former staff members at the Judge Rotenberg Center (according to public records) including:
Kali Kuharevicz, M.S.Ed., BCBA, LABA - Case Manager
Justin Halton, BCBA, LABA - Director of Special Education
Dawn O'Neill, PhD, BCBA-D, LABA - Clinical
Olivia Treves, M.S., BCBA, LABA - Clinical
Maryellen Newman, M.S., LMHC, BCBA, LABA - Clinical
David Plante, M.Ed, BCBA, LABA - Special Education Teacher
Casey Gallagher, M.Ed, BCBA - Testing Coordinator
Robert von Heyn, PhD, BCBA - Director of Clinical Services
Nathan Blenkush Ph.D, BCBA-D - Clinical Services
Jessica E. Van Stratton, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA - Board of Directors
Richard Malott, Ph.D., BCBA-D - Board of Directors
Joshua K. Pritchard, PhD, BCBA-D - Board of Directors
Nick Lowther, MA, BCBA
R. Nicolle Carr, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA-OK - Asst. Director of Clinical Services
Irene McNulty, M.A., BCBA, LABA - Special Education Teacher
Daniel Ivanov, M.S., BCBA, LABA(MA) - Residential Coordinator
Brittany Greene, Ed.S., NCSP, BCBA, LABA - Mental Health Asst.
Aydrien Cathcart, MSEd, BCBA - Special Education Teacher
Kelly Ilsley, PsyD, ABPP, MBA, BCBA-D, OTR - Psychologist
Fabio Bertuol, M.Ed. BCBA - Special Education Teacher
Shane Schofield, M.S. BCBA - Case Manager
Danny Qian, EdS, BCBA - Case Manager
Mencia Lopez, MA, BCBA - Behavior Specialist
Alan Dias-Martin, MA, BCBA - Case Manager
Asli Unver, MA, BCBA - Clinical Asst.
Dr. Christine C Sands, PSYD, BCBA
Sarah Connely, PhD, BCBA-D
A copy of lawsuits involving the Judge Rotenberg Center can be read below: