I’ve been sitting on this one for a while because it’s been too upsetting. I had to adjust my language quite a bit and eliminate a lot (I mean a lot) of cussing and non-christian attitudes. Still, my language in this entry will be strong, and yes, I will be stating my opinions as facts and probably not very gently because I think that this is a clear-cut case of showing what’s right and what’s wrong. I think that there are instances where it’s necessary to be bold in our opinions, even judgmental.
I have never and will never speak in favor of electric shock therapy (ECT). I don’t believe it has ever been useful. I do believe that it’s one of the most harmful things we could do to someone. Until a few years ago when an online friend had it done to try to help with Bi-Polar symptoms, I honestly thought that it was non-existent. It turns out that people do use it for Bi-Polar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, and more. And unfortunately people use it for Autistic patients as well.
I’m frankly astounded that it still happens today… yes, in America. Yes, right under our noses. And yes, it’s violent and abusive and horrific. All you need to do is see video proof and read about the experiences of the individuals and their families about what happens, how it feels during and after, and how the “medical professionals” that perpetuate it often don’t allow the parents or caregivers of the abused individuals know exactly what happens.
It needs to come out that it happens, but more importantly the places where it occurs need to be called out, prosecuted, and shut down for the torture. It is torture. The disabled individuals that report it and their families that report it need to be heard and believed. Again… an inability to be verbal with voice, with sound, does NOT mean “unable to communicate.” It means “communicates differently.” And it doesn’t mean someone is Intellectually Disabled. Speech, or rather lack of speech is not a signifier of intelligence. This does not deserve electric shock therapy.
I’ll spell it out further.
An individual that’s disabled might not communicate with sounds that you understand or with sounds at all. They may communicate using body language, with making pictures, with writing or typing, or find other ways to communicate. Learn how to communicate their way rather than force them to learn “the normal way.” YOU have to make as much of an effort to learn about your loved one’s Autism as your autistic loved one has to figure out how to cope with an unforgiving world that hates disabled people.
This does not deserve electric shock therapy.
An individual that’s disabled might not take their coat off when YOU think it’s appropriate but for them, they should be able to take off their coat whenever they damn well please. The coat may provide sensory input that’s necessary, and a feeling of safety and protection. Learn about the reasons why your autistic loved one is keeping on that jacket longer than is typically socially acceptable. There are valid reasons. They don’t have to be YOUR reasons.
This does not deserve electric shock therapy.
An individual that has a limited, restricted diet who may eat only a certain color of food; a certain texture of food; only three specific food items; does so for specific reasons. We need to learn why and help them without force, using gentle methods and cooperate. Yes, but nutrition. Believe me, I know.
But this does not deserve electric shock therapy.
An individual that’s disabled might not immediately say hello and offer a kiss and hug to the person they’re visiting, but they have the right to Personal Autonomy. They get to choose HOW to say hello, and may need time to warm up to the changes and transitions that are occurring before being capable of following through with social expectations. And honestly? Sometimes it just might not happen. The greeting may not happen but the rest of the visit might be jumped into with both feet. Hugs and kisses ought NOT be expected with any person, honestly, but a simple hand wave hello or a gentle “hi” should be acceptable. No means no.
And this does not deserve electric shock therapy.
You might be annoyed or even embarrassed by a stim (rocking, hand flapping, humming) but unless it’s actually putting the disabled individual and/or others in harms way or it’s truly excessively disruptive then you need to allow Personal Autonomy and let them stim. When I say “excessively disruptive” or at inappropriate times, I mean during a public symphony or during a class test while running up and down isles and spinning in circles repeating (echolalia) phrases the teacher is saying; or there’s danger such as running and running and running and that running might end up in the middle of a busy street. Stims have a very valid purpose, even several purposes. Spinning, hopping, repetitive sounds and phrases, repetitive movements all have a purpose. Making them stop, forcing them to stop, is not that’s helping them cope but it’s agitating unless you can help replace the disruptive stim with an equally soothing and less disruptive stim. Or you know, find out why they’re stimming and see if there’s a solution. There is no shame in stimming (perseverating) and while you have a right to be annoyed, you can tolerate it for a while.
Stims most certainly don’t deserve electric shock therapy.
Just because someone may have one or more disabilities does not mean anyone has the right to torture them. They feel it all. They know it’s happening. They can’t always say no but all you need is to have some empathy.
Being disabled doesn’t deserve electric shock therapy. Even if your disability is sociopathy.
Sensory processing problems that might be only the slightest issues to you and me could and often do seem like the most enormously terrible sensory experiences to autistic individuals. Their responses are appropriate to unwanted sounds and touch that are actually painful to them, pain they can feel in their entire body and being even if it’s something we may not notice… a feathery touch may feel like a punch in the head… and yet what do these clinics do? The slightest, most quiet sound of a fridge humming might seem like a snow plow thundering down the street shaking the whole house. A shady spot in the yard might seem like the brightest sun to you or me. Forget ABA (which I’m mainly against)… imagine what electric shock therapy does to try to “stop” behaviors that result from sensory processing issues. Just imagine. Imagine yourself in that position. You can’t force an individual to stop having sensory processing disorder or their responses to stimuli that is debilitating for them; you can only help them learn to cope and ideally, learn what the problems are and minimize exposure when possible.
Sensory Processing Disorder doesn’t deserve electric shock therapy. It’s the worst assault on their senses possible.
Cognitive disabilities that contribute to learning delays and other issues in children and adults don’t deserve electric shock therapy. You can’t ECT someone out of Cognitive disabilities or learning delays.
Just because someone may have one or more disabilities does not mean that they aren’t sentient beings that are able to think for themselves and make their own decisions whether they communicate the same way you do or not. Imagine what the electric shock therapy does to their brains and thought processes… the REAL damage that’s occurring. If you believe your loved one’s intelligence is “at stake” regarding diet, pollution in the air and water, vaccines, educational input, religion, what they watch on television, what video games they play… then what do you think electric shock therapy does?
Being disabled doesn’t deserve electric shock therapy. Being intellectually disabled doesn’t deserve electric shock therapy.
BEING AUTISTIC doesn’t deserve electric shock therapy.
No one deserves electric shock therapy and it’s a major disservice in even thinking about electric shock therapy or endorsing it. It’s essentially a punishment for being different and not being capable of passing as non-autistic, non-disabled, and having the utter audacity to behave as if they’re disabled rather than overcome the disability and pretend they don’t have one.
When parents and caregivers allow electric shock therapy, they are allowing torture and punishment.
It’s destroying faith and trust that their loved one had in them. They don’t understand the purpose, and believe they’re being punished. They believe they’re dying. It teaches nothing except fear, and damages the brain that wasn’t damaged to begin with.
Something needs to be done. It needs to be banned. This is not a slippery slope thing.
I’m going to ask you to click this link below to the blog “diary of a mom.” Read that entry and then watch the video. It’s going to be torture to watch it but you must. You must for the sake of the individuals who endure the REAL torture every single day. You need to watch it so that the image is burned into your brain and even during the worst of the meltdowns that your child ever experiences and that you have to help him or her through, that you experience with them, when you feel that you might hate Autism itself and wish it didn’t exist, you remember that video and think about how lucky and precious your child really is.