URGENT Call to Action: #StopTheShock This April 24th!!2 min read

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!

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