Friday, February 15, 2013

Tell the FDA to stop the shock therapy at the JRC

Our thanks to Lydia Brown, who passed this email from Nancy Weiss along.

Subject: Letters to FDA needed - End Electric Shock at Judge Rotenberg!

The effort to have the FDA disallow the use of electric shock devices at the Judge Rotenberg Center is in jeopardy.  We are at a turning point --  we need you to write a letter and to pass this request on to others who are concerned about this issue.

It seems the FDA has gotten dozens of letters from parents whose sons or daughters are at the Judge Rotenberg Center and who want JRC to be able to continue to use painful electric shock to control behavior. The FDA is being swayed by these letters. Those who sent letters are not bad parents – but they are people who have found few other options for their loved ones, have made the difficult decision to send their family member to a place like JRC and who need to feel (and convince others) that they have done the right thing.  It is clear from many JRC parents that they had no idea about some of the devastating things that were happening to their loved ones at JRC until much later. A letter from a former student is attached.

We need people to write letters to the FDA. A template for a letter is attached; feel free to use it or to use parts of it  -- but the strongest letters will be those written from the heart.  Letters can be signed by individuals or organizations. 


-- From parents or family members who have loved ones whose behaviors are just as severe as those of people at JRC but whose family member has been treated/supported successfully with humane approaches. If you have a family member whose behaviors are very challenging, please write! 
If you know someone who has a family member who could have ended up at a place like JRC and who may be willing to write a letter to protect people with disabilities from the unspeakable approaches used at JRC, please forward this request.

-- From organizations that serve people whose behaviors are just as severe as those of people sent to JRC – or even people who have been at JRC. Do you support people with tough behaviors using positive approaches?  Please write about the kinds of people you support and the effectiveness of your approaches.  Let the FDA know that pain should not be a part of an effective behavioral approach. Please forward this request if you know people from other agencies that serve people with challenging behaviors.

There are currently about 240 children and adults at JRC …. they represent only a fraction of the many, many people across the country who have challenging behaviors. We need the FDA to understand that it is neither acceptable nor necessary to use pain to control behavior.

Thanks to the many of your organizations that signed on to the letter to  the FDA spearheaded by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.  The full letter with final sign-ons is here:

Now, individual and organization-specific letters are badly needed.  Letters can be emailed to Margaret Hamburg, M.D., the Commissioner of the FDA at:
You may also want to mail a copy.  Letters should be sent by the end of next week (February 22nd). 

Please send your letter directly to:
Margaret Hamburg, M.D.
US Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20993 

You are welcome to copy me so we can maintain a file of the letters sent to the FDA.

Thank you for your continued concern about this issue. The letter from the former student (attached) has touched people’s souls and galvanized this effort in ways that are unprecedented. Please help to end these atrocities once and for all.
-- Nancy Weiss

Nancy R. Weiss
Director, National Leadership Consortium
   on Developmental Disabilities
University of Delaware
Department of Human Development and Family Studies
111 Alison Hall West
Newark, DE 19716

My email:

No humane and just society can allow the JRC to remain open for business and administering shocks to disabled individuals. Nowhere else in the United States does this happen, not in state schools, not in state hospitals, and not in state or federal prisons.

There is no justification for allowing disabled individuals to be shocked day after day, week after week, year after year, for failure to comply. It does not teach compliance. It creates traumatized individuals. 

We cannot allow this to continue.

Thank you,
Kim Wombles


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