We get upset about waterboarding terrorists, but this doesn't seem to be on the radar.
By Heather Adams | Hadams@masslive.com
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on July 22, 2016 at 6:45 AM, updated July 22, 2016 at 11:16 AM
The Judge Rotenberg Educational Center (JRC), a special needs day and residential school in Canton, has been widely criticized for its use of electric shocks on students.
In April, the FDA proposed banning "electrical stimulation devices used to treat self-injurious or aggressive behavior." The ban is specially aimed at JRC, the only facility left in the country using electric shock devices known as Graduated Electronic Decelerators, or GEDs.
Reports have ranged from students being shocked 10 times in a row due to an equipment malfunction to 31 times in a seven-hour period for breaking JRC rules. In 2008, JRC told Boston Magazine students were typically shocked just once a week. Then in 2010, Linda Doherty told ABC News her son was shocked 40 times one week and 18 times the next week.
Due to the wide range of reports, it's unknown how often students are shocked. JRC did not respond to requests for information on its practices.
As a hypothetical example, let's say a student is typically shocked an average of two times a week. From the FDA hearing in April 2014 to when the FDA proposed banning the devices, that student would've been shocked approximately 208 times.
After the proposed ban, there was a comment period until May 25. That's 10 more shocks.
The comment period was extended and will be available until July 25. Totalling approximately 234 shocks since the FDA had a hearing about the devices.
So why is the FDA taking so long to decide what course to take?
One reason is that this would only be the second time the FDA has passed a ban on a medical device. The first time was in 1983 for prosthetic hair fibers, which were scalp implantation devices to simulate natural hair. The FDA, however, found the devices did not work and could cause serious injury or illness.
They have also recently placed a proposed ban on Powdered Surgeon's Gloves, Powdered Patient Examination Gloves, and Absorbable Powder for Lubricating a Surgeon's Glove. Comments closed for this ban June 20, 2016.
Nancy Weiss, National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities director, said another reason might be the topic's complex nature.
On one hand, there are parents of children with severe disabilities who were taken in by JRC. Those parents are challenged greatly by keeping their children safe, be it from accidentally hurting themselves or others, balancing medication or finding a place in the public school system. JRC's method, they contend, is the last hope for their children.
On the other hand, there are advocates, former students and staff members and the families of students who say JRC's methods are harmful.
This controversial Massachusetts facility is the last in the country to use electric shock on students
The FDA has proposed a ban on electric shock devices. Here's an inside look at what's happening inside the only facility left using them, located in Canton, Massachusetts.
Weiss emphasized the importance of parents finding other methods and that the students at JRC aren't the only people "in this country that have significant behavioral issues."
"There are people in every state who have severely dangerous behaviors," she said, "and they're being treated effectively and humanely."
Weiss said she's worried because even though more people are sharing their personal experiences with JRC, "there's a lot we don't know."
If the ban doesn't pass, advocates say they aren't giving up. But many are also worried that JRC isn't planning ahead for if the ban does happen. Even if the FDA does decide to pass its ban on GEDs, advocates say their fight isn't over.
"JRC, as far as any of us are aware or could possibly suspect, are not preparing any transition," said Lydia Brown, chairperson of the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council.
Some students might leave JRC if the ban passes, Brown said, but others might stay, and what kind of therapy they'll be subjected to is unknown.
"For those remaining at the JRC, it's an open question," Brown said. "The JRC has been able to successfully evade oversight and monitoring for decades."
Judge Rotenberg Center has history on its side as FDA looks to ban electric shock therapy
Disability advocates have tried to stop the use of electric shock devices at Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton, Massachusetts for decades with no success. Now, the FDA has proposed banning them.
Thank You Ms Adams and masslive.