Jimmy asked, "why do you do that Daddy?"
"Because they don't do as they are told son".
"Would you do that to me Daddy?" Big Mo had to think a while and finally replied, "no son, you don't have autism silly."
The disturbing video (above) was released 11 April 2012. All the autism awareness campaigns in the world don't seem to be changing the hearts and minds of many of those who work with people who have autism. This video shows the kind of torture administered by the Judge Rotenberg Centre in Massachusetts USA, over the past three decades, to children and young people who have autism and who are in their 'care'.
The video shows a 2002 incident in which 18-year-old Andre McCollins was restrained, face-down, on the floor of a classroom, and then given 31 shocks—all because he had refused to take off his coat. The torture he received took place at the infamous Judge Rotenberg Center in Massachusetts, USA.
The young man is currently suing Rotenberg. His mother, Cheryl, testified in court yesterday and said, "I never signed up for him to be tortured, terrorized, and abused. I had no idea—no idea—that they tortured the children in the school." More footage is expected to be shown in court today.
Why am I bringing your attention to this you may ask? After all, this blog is supposed to be about autism in Northern Ireland.
First off, I want our friends in the USA, whose children have been betrayed and tortured at this centre,to know that we in Northern Ireland are appalled and angry at the pain they and you went through. Well, at least this blogger is appalled.
Second, don't believe that this kind of abuse is isolated to torture centers like the Judge Rotenberg centre. We have lots of instances of 'torture' here in Northern Ireland, where adults who have autism still languish in 'mental' hospitals, where ill-informed medical staff drug and silence children with drugs both at home and at school and where children are removed from their families because an 'expert' believes the child exhibits signs of abuse as opposed to autism. See here to learn about the heartbreaking treatment inflicted upon Antrim teenager Katie Ryder.
The 'Light it up Blue' charade may have filled the coffers of charities, but it didn't do anything for autism 'awareness'.
Changing the hearts and minds of people regarding an issue does not happen by making charities richer. Some staff at the Rotenberg Center are probably uncomfortable with what they do and in fact some have left the center and told their experiences on the internet. As for those who stay, well, there are plenty of sociopaths and psychopaths in this world and they can justify their actions for a myriad of reasons. They absolve themselves of responsibility because someone else says it is ok or simply because they are getting away with it. Tomes have been written on this kind of human behaviour. The Judge Rotenberg Center Lights Kids Up Electric Blue.
Derry City Council in their recent news letter here . refer to the real meaning of 'Light It Up Blue'. Alderman Devenney said, “By lighting up the Council’s Civic Offices on the Strand Road blue for the month of April we are sending out a clear message that we are supportive of the work being done on the ground to offer help and support to families in the city and across Northern Ireland dealing with this disability. We hope that this gesture will create better awareness and understanding of the issue and raise much needed funds for the charity,” he commented.
What charity is that you say? Autism NI of course, who else. Much needed funds? Why? What do they do? Remind me?
By the way, for those of you who don't know, the 'Light It Up Blue' campaign for Autism Awareness Month was concocted by Autism Speaks in the USA, and had nothing to do with Autism NI, though I am sure the campaign was a nice earner for any organisation that supported it. With so many staff to pay and with so many cuts to their funding, autism charity employees are all struggling to pay their mortgages and save for those holidays!.
We have enough autism awareness now. Who doesn't know about autism? What we don't have is understanding and respect for persons who have autism. We don't have the voice of those individuals influencing changes where changes need to be made. Who is it that makes decisions regarding autism in Northern Ireland? Do any of those people have autism themselves? Does Arlene Cassidy of Autism NI have autism? Does Edwin Poots, our Health Minister have autism? Who do they consult when making decisions? Is there a formal process? I would sure like to know about it. Phoning a friend doesn't count.
Throwing money at charities and organisations does absolutely nothing for people who have autism. Yet, in Northern Ireland that's what you do - you give and give and you don't ask questions. You just assume all that lovely money is going to good use for those poor little autistic kids. (Like autism ends when adulthood begins)
When bad things happen, charities are the last to say anything about it unless it serves their interests. I have absolutely no doubt that atrocities similar to what happened and continue to happen at the Judge Rotenberg Center do happen here as well. You and I just don't hear about them. See here: http://niscc.info/HearingsbyDate-339.aspx#0103 to learn about why care worker Edith McGaughey was struck off as a Social Worker in March this year for abusing her autistic clients at an Autism Initiatives home in Bangor. She's not the first.
As for charities, they tend not to poke their noses into affairs outside of the UK unless it suits them. Ok, Arlene Cassidy provided a free junket to Washington DC a few years back. About 12 politicos went I think. This made her and her charity look good. She also 'testified' at the Committee for Foreign Affairs last year. see here. When it suits, Autism NI gets 'international'. We will see if they internationally condemn the Judge Rotenberg Center. I somehow doubt it, they seem too busy trying convince local councils of the 'work' they do and of course, of the money they "need".
Didn't Northern Ireland have plans to use children as guinea pigs at the Middletown Centre for Autism? Not one child has gone through the doors of Middletown. For that, I think, we can be grateful. Let it continue to be a white elephant, and a waste of money, as long as they keep their hands off of our children. When so-called 'experts' from Northern Ireland take control of your children, God knows what could happen.
I am praying for all the 'inmates' currently imprisoned at the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton Massachusetts. It's 2012 but if you have autism it might as well be 1812.