Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Skin of Children

Image description: a line drawing of a forearm receiving an electric shock

So there is finally movement in the fight towards the banning of the use of electric shock as a 'treatment' option for children with disabilities. I have read a lot of response to this announcement. A lot of, forgive me, shock. A lot of outrage. A lot of people waiting with bated breath to hear if the ban goes through.

And then there is skin.

Still being shocked.

The skin of children.

is being shocked.

While we wait. While people have meetings, with coffee and muffins, to decide if they will ban this 'therapeutic procedure' They will look at evidence and hear arguments, weigh public opinion and write reports.

The skin of children.

Is being shocked.

It astonishes me that proponents talk about the studies, evidence based reports, that show the effectiveness of shocking ...

... the skin of children.

And it astonishes me further that people can read a data chart and see every data point that shows exactly when and with what power a shock was given to ...

... the skin of children.

No one asks the right question. How could it be that we came to shock the skin of children? What kind of distorted thinking made the idea possible? A procedure that would be considered cruel to use with animals was acceptable to use with children. Who said, first, Hey, let's shock ...

... the skin of children.

The answer is easy. 'Children' never entered into the discussion. Because humanity is denied to the different the word 'inhumane' isn't seen to apply. You can not be inhumane to that which is not human. You can be inhumane to animals - but as you know there are bioethics professors who believe that killing a cat is a more serious crime than killing a baby with an intellectual disability.

They shock the skin of children.

And we're still talking about whether or not this is acceptable practice.

People are fighting in order to continue to be able to shock ...

... the skin of children.

This is the world we live in.

This is the world that the disabled know.

The one that would shock the skin of our children.

7 comments:

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

I am against it for animals; the thought that it is used, still, on children is disgusting.

Let's take the electrodes off the children, and shock the 'caretakers' every time they can't figure out how to get the behavior they want with only positive reinforcement methods. The practice would be over in ten minutes.

That is horrible.

Ron Arnold said...

The sad part is - the folks doing this under the guise of behavior modification have gotten run out of one place and then set up in another. Quite frankly - I don't see how they haven't been turned in to child protective services and had every single practicing / operating license revoked as what they're doing is not therapy - it's abuse.

h smith said...

Years ago I read testimonys and saw photos online of what 'shocking the skin (body) of disabled children' for behavioural modification actually means, and I nearly vomited. It is abhorent beyond words and that 'in meetings with coffee and muffins' comment is spot on for how disconnected people with power are from the reality of this torture. As disconnected as the adults literally pushing the buttons to deliver the taser-like assaults from a distance, on children, teens and vulnerable adults.

There is only one situation I can think of where using this shock treatment equipment is acceptable, and thats during training days on consenting adults working in, or making decisions on, the care/support sector. Because that could lead to huge breakthroughs in understandings of how to support disabled people properly. Show them what behaviour modification feels like by wiring up the group, giving them arbitory rules like not being allowed to say 'um', or cry out when they get shocked, and have someone shock them everytime they break a rule. And occasionally for no reason, or shock the wrong person, because that happens. Most people wouldnt last a hour and would then really understand how difficult it is to modify your own habitual or instinctive behaviour even and often especially when confronted with 'negative reinforcement'. A follow up session using positive reinforcement, eg getting through a sentence without umming gets you a cake, would show them how it feels to be supported to succeed instead of punished for failing. But this sort of training session, causing pain to able bodied, consenting adults through 'shock therapy' would never be allowed would it..

Saskia Steidel-Brown said...

Until not that long ago, I would have not believed that this really still happens. The thought that anyone would do this to a child, that any parent would allow this to happen to their child...?! I cannot grasp it. How can this still happen in 2016? Abuse, torture, horror...And they call it " help" or " therapy ". It's sickening!!!!
But I think it's not enough to just feel this way. We have to take a stand, sign petitions, send letters to those who can finally ban this torture.
Please, if you're aware of a petition, please share the link.
Who should we write to? Where to send concerned letters? I will write. I know I have passionate friends who would write.
Thank you!

Ron Arnold said...

Here is a center that had been utilizing shock treatment as aversion therapy, and even had a CBS News investigative report done on it. I could find no recent articles on aversion 'therapy' there - in fact, they are emphasizing their positive treatments. Like - really up front emphasizing. Perhaps the negative exposure has done some good: http://judgerc.org/

Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone said...

Don't forget, part of the hearing the FDA had a while back that finally lead to this proposed ban involved an extensive discussion on if studies supported that Autistics "really" could feel pain.

Grown adults. Scientists. Using a poorly designed study (it studied affect to determine pain response in a population with marked affect atypicalities???). To say that autistics might not feel pain anyways so maybe it's not that bad to use on autistics.

Patricia Wright said...

Horrified that this is perceived as a therapeutic intervention...absolutely horrified.