School of Shock

Why are we treating autistic kids like enemy combatants?


UPDATE: The “School of Shock” is currently under federal investigation for its controversial treatments. Read about it here.

This is the photo essay companion to Jennifer Gonnerman’s piece on the Judge Rotenberg Center, a facility where autistic, mentally retarded, and emotionally troubled children from eight states are subjected to food deprivation, social isolation, and even electric shocks.

At the Rotenberg Center, students as young as nine and ten receive shocks for misbehaving. Employees wear remotes bearing a picture of each child around their waist so they don't shock the wrong kid.

At the Rotenberg Center, students as young as nine and ten receive shocks for misbehaving. Employees wear remotes bearing a picture of each child around their waist so they don’t shock the wrong kid.
 

GED device TK
 

Director TK TK
 

Monitoring room TK
 

Students use good-behavior points to "buy" goods from this school store. If they’re really good, they can also go to the "Big Reward Store," an arcade that is the only place where some are allowed to socialize freely.
 

Students who receive electric shocks carry the device around in a backpack and wear the electrodes 24 hours a day; some are also monitored at all times by at least one Rotenberg Center employee.
 

At the Rotenberg Center, the staff, too, are constantly under surveillance. They can’t have casual conversations with each other and if they are caught failing to shock kids when the rules say they should, they can be fired.
 

Reward Room 2

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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