THE BLOG
04/04/2008 11:34 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Will Rape Shut the Shock School?

When I wrote recently about the Judge Rotenberg Center -- the facility for autistic kids and other children with "behavior problems" that uses electric shock to gain compliance -- I asked rhetorically what it might take to shut it down. If the latest incident doesn't do it, I simply cannot imagine what would.

Of course, you would think exposure of its methods would be enough. Especially given our increasing knowledge about oversensitivity in autism and the fact that many "inappropriate behaviors" are actually attempts by people with autism to soothe themselves when overwhelmed. Brilliant treatment, this is: take a kid who is distressed and trying to soothe herself-- and punish her with more distress to try to make her stop.

Ok, so that's not enough for the state regulators. How about the fact that a former inmate of the program can call in and order employees to shock other kids -- for no reason -- and the employees comply, replicating Milgrim's chilling "obedience" experiment? That's the one where ordinary people become "good Nazi's" simply by being told what to do.

Oh yeah, that didn"t do it. Comes now word that a staff member allegedly raped another staff member at a Rotenberg facility. Police were called to the site just after the incident -- and the rape apparently occurred in a bathroom.

Can we please, please spend the $200,000 a year states give to this program each year per child instead on evidence-based, nurturing treatment at home? I mean, for that money, you could hire a psychiatrist full-time to see only your child.

It's time to turn the page on this shameful chapter in the history of treating troubled children.