What if I told you that there was a far off land where #actuallyautistic people were forced to wear electrodes? Where painful electric shocks were administered to anyone who dared to be themselves, engaging in such behaviors as flapping their arms or standing without permission? Imagine that if these people screamed in pain, they were shocked again for making noise?
You’d say that I am a horrible person to make something like this up or have a great imagination, right? I should write dystopian fiction.
I have bad news for you: this happens daily at The Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) in the state of Massachusetts. I know, it’s too horrible. I couldn’t believe it either.
Our fellow autistic activists at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) report that the JRC houses both children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental health conditions, and learning disabilities.
The residents are disproportionately people of color and include many autistics. Many residents are forced to wear Gradual Electronic Decelerators (GEDs) on their bodies, so that aversive electric shocks can be delivered to correct their behavior, including entirely non-violent behaviors like arm flapping.
You can watch this news clip which shares footage of this shock treatment happening at the Judge Rotenberg Center to see what this means for autistics and other disabled individuals. Content warning: video contains graphic, disturbing images and sounds.
But this is America, right? Why doesn’t the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do something?
On April 24, 2014, hearings were held during which the FDA determined that the GED devices could not be used without significant harm to wearers and recommended a universal ban. In December 2018, the FDA released its Unified Agenda and promised that they were working to finalize this rule banning GEDs as aversive measures.
The problem is that as of April 24, 2019, it will have been five long years since the FDA hearing, and ASAN and the rest of the #actuallyautistic community are still waiting. Five years during which the residents of the JRC receive shocks every day. We must remind the FDA that this simply cannot continue! We must #StopTheShock!
We at The Aspergian are asking you to get involved next Wednesday on April 24th, the official day of the #StopTheShock Wait-Ins. Pen an op-ed, make a post to social media with a #StopTheShock hashtag, call your Senator or Representative; or, if you can, attend a local #StopTheShock Wait-In in person.
Even if you’re not in the United States, you can still get the word out by sharing this article, using the hashtag #StopTheShock, and joining online efforts to get out the word.
I will be at the Wait-In in Washington, DC, next Wednesday in the hopes that we will get the attention of Congress. To learn more about what YOU can do, please click here and visit ASAN for detailed information.
Please take the time to do SOMETHING on April 24th and remember: the entire #actuallyautistic community is in this together! A five year wait to #StopTheShock is unacceptable!