May 18th, 2012
10:45 PM ET

Outcry against school's shock therapy

A disturbing video shows an autistic teenager strapped down and repeatedly zapped with electrical shocks at his school. Anderson Cooper spoke with the student's mother about why she's outraged and wants the school to close. He also talked with a lawyer for the school, a former teacher's assistant, and another mother who says the controversial treatment saved her son's life

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Filed under: 360° Interview • Autism
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Deni Duntz-Moore

    I have heard of this school several years ago after my son was born in 2000 who is autistic with OCD. After seeing the cruel, inhumane treatment that these so-called educational and medical professionals at the school prescribe for the students, the word 'torture' is the only one suitable to describe the shock therapy. These people are too lazy to apply the tools of their education and wish only to torment young, helpless special needs individuals. This treatment you'll see of these students is reminiscent of what drug cartels, radical insurgents and 3rd world governments use on dissidents and prisoners. It's primitive and corrupt. It's a lazy form of dealing with a problem that must be aproached with compassion and understanding, not cruelty. The school should be shut down and the staff prosecuted.

    May 22, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  2. Teeda

    I think this one will haunt me for a long time. I cannot believe this abuse is sold as "therapy" to parents of vulnerable children. How terrifying for these kids. The mental health system must do better. Massachusetts are you listening?

    May 22, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
  3. Lauren

    I am shocked & at a loss for words – what in the hell is going on here & why is it allowed to go on???

    May 22, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  4. Jen

    While I am a parent of a child with special needs it appalls me to know that this happens and that it is called Therapy. It is in humane and we should be not be allowing this. It is a horrible thing not to know what goes on in my child's day and that there are horrible people that we can not prevent from attacking our children.

    May 22, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
  5. Brandy

    I have an autistic nephew and yes at times he is hard to deel with, but never in my life would i ever put my hands on him or hurt him in anyway, they say kids like that need a safety person, thats what a mother is there for. If this ever happened to him, the person responsible would end up missing!!! I can't believe that this is even allowed in our society today. How can these people just sit back and watch the kids in that school, get this done to them. I think the school should of been closed years ago!!!!! The person responsible needs to get the death penalty for this one!!!!!!!

    May 22, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  6. Cathie DiBuono

    In 2001, when my 20 year old son with Developemental disabilities, bad OCD and Asberger's (possible) was in CVH in Ct, I was told they were going to send him there to that school, i said i rather have him in jail.I wrote my Senators and others and got him into another program in a different state and since then seen terrible things about this place. Have we not gotten better than this.That place was already shut down under another name prior..this is sinful and needs to be closed....i am also a teacher and I am appalled any mother would send their child here...You need to investigate these places before your child is sent because you will never get them out...

    May 22, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  7. Ann V.

    Thank you, A. C. for the awareness, and the many perspectives. That was awful to watch! I hope and pray for easier ways to help a child/adult.

    May 21, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  8. Cathi Christodoulou

    I am sickened and speechless. It is illegal to do this to animals, prisoners and war criminals....why would it even be imaginable to do it to our children? It is just not acceptable. Not for the school, nor for the administrators that allow the school to continue operating.

    May 19, 2012 at 7:31 am |
  9. Sam

    Shame on anyone who would willingly enroll their child into such a program, you obviously knew what to expect? If you challenge their effectiveness of treatment, all hope is in shutting them down. However, if taken to court over monetary purposes, You are worst than your plantiffs. Lets sacrafice my child to gain funds does not work in my book!!

    May 19, 2012 at 2:13 am |
  10. ashley

    What I thought was pretty 'amusing' during this segment of the show was how the lawyer was trying to defend the shocks as 'at least it's not drug-induced sedation!" Hm, seems like training an autistic patient with classical conditioning, ie fear of pain via electric shock, is forcing the patient to sedate themselves out of fear. I also felt bad for clinical employee who clearly knew what was going on was wrong, but who was unable to express himself to the viewer as articulately as the lawyer. Why didn't he get paired up with a mainstream psychologist to back him up?

    May 19, 2012 at 2:08 am |
  11. julia

    BTW, parents need to step up and not sign away their responsibility for their child's welfare to HOSTEL-type places such as this. Shame on these parents. The excuse that "I didn't know" is as lame as the lawyer's defense. Admit it, its so much easier to get rid of your problematic child with mental deficiencies. Question to parents......do you sleep better at night? Where do these children end up when they turn 18?

    May 19, 2012 at 2:01 am |
  12. Ekram

    Electric shock is no different than mental abuse.

    May 19, 2012 at 1:52 am |
  13. marie

    After watching this and having a child with autism I find this extremely offensive and unbeliveable. Where is law enforcement. It would be against the law to treat an animal in this fashion and yet they are able to treat disabled children in a way that goes far beyond what I would describe as abuse. How can this even be legal? I am beyond shocked and appauled. I am wondering if this would even be legal in a third world country. This should outrage us as parents especially parents of special need children this should outrage us as americans. An animal would have more morals than to do this to their child and that is why we have laws in this country. I pray for these children and for God to interviene and also us as Americans to protect these special children. This truly breaks my heart. However, I am just one voice, one mother, one American, more people need to take a stand and help protect these truly special children.

    May 19, 2012 at 12:40 am |
  14. Rick Doll

    I watched your segment on "shock therapy”, I found it very perplexing that it could actually be legal to even have such torture devices in American schools. To think that these devices work as a behavioral tool, then these should be used in the madrasa's and other hot beds of the world where radical extremists seem to gather..........no more terrorism job done! This just shows you we are modern human beings with medieval brains that are set to violence as a means to control!

    May 18, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
  15. Mary

    Police use tazers to control criminals, now a school is shocking students for behavioral issues. The school should in my opinion be shut down. No person has a right to inflict pain on another unless they are being threatened. The parents who sent there children to this school should be ashamed of themselves and be charged with neglect and endangering there child to this type of treatment. The people who shocked these helpless children should be also charged criminally with assault with a weapon. Shame on the parents and the workers. Keep it up Anderson these children obviously need all the help they can get.

    May 18, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
  16. Mary Alice Rossini

    I'm shocked and deeply disturbed by this report. There are so many aspects to it, but never should it be ok to harm or cause pain to any of these children/young adults in the name of treatment.

    May 18, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
  17. Louisa

    Hi Anderson,

    I just saw your piece on the judger rothenberg center here in Massachusetts. I watched it with someone who works there right now. The point of view of the previous 3 year employee was backed by all tales I've been told of this place. In fact, as we watched it, a note was made of the comment "if a student stands up... for whatever reason. It doesn't matter if it's to come to the front and ask the teacher for permission to go to the bathroom or to give a hug to the teacher, the student will be shocked." This is a comment that was backed by this current employee. The employee also said that were it known that no electric shocks were giving by the employee, the employee might actually be fired.
    I'm just writing because this really touched us when we watched it. We hope this helps to give more credence to the former employee's statements.

    I cannot help but state at this moment that we really appreciate the work you do in bringing such issues to the public's notice. Keep up the good work Anderson 🙂


    A concerned party

    May 18, 2012 at 11:03 pm |