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Shut Them Down! Rotenberg Center Burns Student with "Shock" Treatment.

WeepBy Kim Stagliano

My God... In this week after Passover and Easter, "'Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?

Please take a look at this petition to SHUT DOWN the barbaric Rotenberg Center in Massachusetts.  This "school" (and Abu Graib is a summer camp) uses electric shock as a behavioral treatment. Painful, aversive, out of date, last ditch, aw who cares it's just mentally disturbed kids and autistic kids who are probably in the last place on earth that will take them electric shock.   Yes, Massachusetts (which happens to be my homestate) the ultra-liberal blue state where anything goes - except medical rights and freedom and respect and decency for children and their families.   The state where Justina Pelletier languishes in DCF after having been taken from her family by Children's of Boston.  

Here is the start of the petition by a former teacher's aide at Rotenberg.  As an aside, my Dad, now 91 years of age, played golf with Judge Ernie Rotenberg back in the 60s and 70s. And rumor has it, the Judge was a lot like Judge Smails - he used a "footwedge" to boost his scores.  His wife Gladys died just last year, her service held at the Synagogue in the town where I grew up.  The dichotomy, or irony (which seems too glib a word to suffice here) of this school having been named after a Jewish man - a school that tortures and maims as viciously as any concentration camp as far as I can see, is as vivid as the burns on the boy's body.

That any student remains there speaks to the tragedy of mental health and autism care for teens and children. There are so few good choices. NO ONE KNOWS WHAT TO DO! For the Alex Spourdalakis's, the Sky Walker's, kids who need care and medical treatment - not torture, the Rotenberg Center should be closed down for cheating children out of their very lives - it is barbaric and inhumane.  NOW. 

The video is disturbing, please be aware.  Kim

I deeply regret having worked as a teacher’s assistant at The Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC), a “special needs school” in Canton, Massachusetts, where children and teenagers with autism and other disabilities are administered electric shocks as a means of controlling their behaviors.  

I joined the JRC because I thought I would be helping these special needs students.  But it became clear that this practice was painful, traumatic, and more harmful than good. I never would have used these "GED" shock devices had JRC not told me and other staff in training that the GEDs had been “approved by the FDA”.  When asking an administrator about the severe thick and bloodied scabby injuries all over students' bodies, I was told that these machines had been tested and were “proven to be safe” as necessary to get FDA approval.  I did not know until 2012 that this was a lie!

The human rights abuses taking place at the JRC are well documented.  In 2013, the United Nations in “Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez,” unequivocally stated that the methods used at the JRC are “torture” in violation of international human rights standards. 

Please see the short video of Andre McCollins strapped down on a restraint board by lock and key, and shocked repeatedly over seven hours.  It's hard to watch but the video shows Andre, who has autism, being being shocked for refusing to take off his coat. He was embarrassed that he had been forced to wear the clothes of another student that morning that he was concealing with his jacket, and people with autism sometimes have difficulty with change.

Read and sign the petition at Shut Down Rotenberg Center Change.org.

House of Cards 200 pixelsKim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her new novel,  House of Cards; A All I Can Handle 50 pixel Kat Cavicchio romantic suspense is available from Amazon in all e-formats now. Her memoir, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book.



I worked as a nurse for the last 40 years, recently retired. I began in the 1970's amid the controversy of places like Willowbrook School and the Gaebler Center. These along with the JRC are not schools, in my opinion but cash cows for the people who own/operate them. I am, unfortunately, not shocked that institutions like JRC still exist but it saddens me deeply that we have learned so little when it comes to basic human dignity, compassion and the ability to empathize. I worked in a private hospital, where we did use medications, intensive therapy and had teachers who actually interacted with students daily, not just parking them in front of a t.v., a computer monitor or book and calling it "education". We NEVER used any aversives because they would, most generally, have to be increased, not decreased, thus not allowing the clients to move out of that phase of the program. We tried to find out the "why" concerning behaviors, not punishing for them. It was difficult, challenging and very rewarding to see our clients progress, even just a little. I pray that the attitudes conveyed by the JRC will be extinguished and that these children and adults, our most vulnerable citizens, will find the care and compassion needed to live the best life possible.

Grace Green

Robyn, you're absolutely right in everything you say in your comment. I would definitely choose your first option for this place. Even more, as an autistic person who is a qualified teacher I would love to run such a school! Sadly, there seems to be no funding or political will for such an approach. People like you and me must keep speaking up for all autistic people, and what we need.


I'm Autistic too, but my parents would never send me there. The Judge Rotenberg Center is abusive, cruel and doesn't help Autistic children at all. This is outragous, and I hope that it changes soon. I can't believe it's a Jewish guy who came up with this. I'm Jewish, and this is not how most Jews act. What if they did this to non Autistics?! Would that be the thing that would drive people to action?! Almost everything I do would get me shocked there. I don't like the U.N because most of the time, they're only condemning Israel, a democracy. However, the JRC is so bad that the U.N decided to take a break from Israel bashing to condemn it. I think it should be closed down forever. There are two options for what it should be covnerted to. Number 1, it could become another school for Autistic children, except that the new school would be a place for comfort, lessons, safety, protection, kindness, affection, fun, support, love, patience, understanding as well as every other virtue that the JRC doesn't have. There would also be a room where the adults or the children, if they choose to, can remember what happened before, and make sure that it never happens again. Number 2, it could become a memorial for all the children who were abused there. I prefer number one, for that will help other Autistic children, preserve the memory of the abused and mock the abusers. Which option would you pick? They're both much better options than keeping it open. Then the abusers should be in jail, never to be near a child again.

Never Again

2016 and the torture of disabled children by the Sadists of JRC happens 24 hours a day. The U.N. condemned these illegally modified shock packs that burn these mental babies with 2nd and 3D degree burns. The Judge Rotenberg Center defended this by saying it didn't hurt badly enough. They enjoy making these poor children suffer. JRC starves them, shackles them, puts them in the dark, and shocks them. How long will the cries and screams of these abused special needs children be ignored? Why aren't these children rescued from those depraved lunatics? Defending the defenseless and not closing eyes to evil is a great teaching of most just societies. Mengele would feel right at home at the Judge Rotenberg Center.

Horrified Gramma

It has been decades and still the torture of handicapped children continues unabated, with millions paid to them by the government. No one is arrested, and no one rescues these helpless kids. The youngest is 3 years old. These kids are starved, shackled, abandoned, taunted, and jolted with illegally modified devices that cause 2nd and 3d degree burns. A half dozen children have died there. It isn't a school -it's a concentration camp. Do you know what JRC characterizes as behavior needing shocks? It is a disabled little girl with cerebral palsy who is blind and nonverbal moaning and reaching out to Staff for a hug. Yes, needing comfort and being unable to talk clearly indicates non compliant behavior to those sadists. The child got shocks for it. How sick!

Elise New Baucum

This is sad I am democrat this isn't a political thing this school is wrong vile and should not be shocking students


You had a good experience and I am glad. I read were it was helping some that were injurying themselves and I understood that.

I also read were officails and the FDA had caught them using electric shocks for just saying no -- that will not do!!!!

Too much power and who do you give that power to?



John Stone

Hi Nicholas,

I take your point but it only highlights the failure of medicine and psychiatry that this could remotely be seen as an alternative.

John Stone, UK Editor, Age of Autism


as a parent whose child attends JRC before you rush to judge and shut down one of the only schools which do not treat severe behavioral students with drugs you need to look at the end result. There are few if any side effects compared to pharmaceutical drugs which is slow torture. Yes drugs may make you feel better and are a lot easier to administer emotionally but as a parent do you want your child in a vegetative state unable to walk or have multiple medical problems because of the side effects of experimental drugs? while my child is not attached to any electronic device most students who attend JRC are not the video insinuated that all the student where which is a lie. It is only used for severe cases mainly to prevent self abuse not for just refusing to take off a jacket which was very misleading.




This is truly horrible. I am forwarding emails to friends, sharing on FB, and sending a letter to the FDA. I think also we should contact Amnesty International to start a campaign.

Neva Deonne Brady-Morgan

My God. Close this place down, prosecute the perpetrators.


While I could not face watching the video, I am boiling angry that this would be allowed. Their methods are barbaric and reek of minds similar to Mengele. Who is advocating for these poor kids? I know as a parent I would NEVER allow my autistic child subjected to this and would raise hell like no other if he was. I can't imagine what professionals who work with special needs could perform this kind of torture with clear conscious. They must have to hire sociopaths. Sick.

John Cullison

If it takes lack of FDA approval before you realize something is wrong, or you can see something is wrong but "FDA approval" magically makes you think what you can clearly see is wrong somehow acceptable, maybe you're too stupid to work with any human beings at all. Or bacteria. Or Legos. Or rocks. Or maybe you're just evil.


JRC has been under fire before... Illegal use of restraints resulting in death. A friend of mine lost his 12 year old son there, the killer was found not guilty and returned to work, then years later found guilty of raping boys there. That chamber of horrors should be shut down forever!


If this "therapy" was used on dogs, the place would be shut down in a heartbeat.

The Massachusetts government and all institutions should be investigated for widespread criminal misconduct.


What's with the State of MASS? There's the horrific situation with Justina Pelletier (still ongoing) and the ongoing issue with JRC.

The parallels with the above institutions are striking...


There is actually an FDA hearing today, April 24th, on the use of the devices like those used at JRC. I would urge those who are concerned on this issue to submit written comments to the FDA. This link will advise you how to do so. A petition won't bring the results that letters will.

Please also know that there is a difference between what is utilized as an aversive at JRC and ECT. Both however should not be utilized from the perspective of behavioral intervention because they are both adversives and there is no research to show long term effects of the trauma sustained from this.

I would request that parents and advocates start becoming more aware of these opportunities to provide oral testimony or written comments on these very important issues within disability rights on a national level. We seem to be losing foundational structure on the rights of individuals with disabilities on the civil rights front and we cannot let that happen.

Thank you also for bringing attention to this issue and we can do something about it by sending letters directly to the FDA who will be making the decision on this. We have until late May to do so but I would urge people to do so now and approach organizations you are members of or serve with to send position statements from their respective groups.

Thank you.


Donna K

The following TED talk video link by Philip Zimbardo on the Psychology of Evil is so worth watching!


He helps explain how ordinary people can become "bad apples" and find themselves participating in heinous acts if conditioned to conform or believes there is no accountability. He explains how Abu Ghraib was allowed to happen and how systemic influences allow other inhumane acts to become part of a culture. Within the age of autism, we are witnessing the same systemic power use willing "bad apples" (as he defines those who carry out the "evil" deeds) to manipulate the bystanders to not question the inhumanity of poisoning and sacrificing children for a public health ideology. Paul Offit is very adament about not studying toxic effects of aluminum because "vaccines require it." Check out Offit at 27:17 on the AoA post video of http://www.ageofautism.com/2014/03/documentary-in-the-works-vaccines-are-they-safe-and-effective.html

If we are going to succeed in bringing an end to the age of autism by changing the system that wrought it, I believe we need to identify who the "bad barrel maker" is. Treatment centers, propagandizing newsreporters, complicit peditricians, the Dorit Reiss' and Gorski's and Offit's, the anonymous nasty robo-commenters would all fall under "the bad apple" category in his construct. We need to identify the power broker that manipulates them and all the rest of the world's conforming "bystanders."

Thank God there are people who decide they will not tolerate being a part of something inhumane and speak up. When there is a lack of accountability or oversight, abuse WILL occur. Thank you Kim for bringing our attention back to this petition. Hopefully with enough attention (an informal oversight), change will come for these vulnerable children.

Laura Hayes

Thank you, Kim, for bringing these horrific crimes against the disabled to our attention. I sit here speechless, and sick to my stomach. Such evil as not to be believed. Our country has become a nation of horrors, poisoning our children in too many ways to list, all in the name of profit, then torturing them when they've been rendered disabled. Evil abounds. The U.S. is becoming more like Nazi Germany everyday. Tyranny of all types escalating. It is truly frightening.


Well my husband and I have had our own shock this morning. HE did not beleive me and I had to show him..

we aer now half way over our shock!!!
This is going on in the United States!

At first I thought it was about the electric shock treatment for depression were they put the patients to sleep.

They wanted him to take off his coat and shocked him for that with a taser looks like --- is that because he refused to take off his coat keeping them from putting eletrodes on him?

This gives too much power to the guy with the button and power corrupts all.

Heart problems are not uncommon nor epilepsy - in this group of kids -- has there been any deaths, or hosiitalization from heart attacks or seizures?

Abandon Hope

Bad things happen all over the world, but nothing can excuse the fact that these daily atrocities against defenseless and mentally impaired children are sanctioned by the US state.

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