By Adam Reilly
May 10, 2012
BOSTON — A Canton school for individuals with serious behavior disorders is facing national criticism over its controversial use of electroshock therapy.
In a recent malpractice trial, graphic video of officials at the Judge Rotenberg Center repeatedly shocking autistic teen Andre McCollins was shown in court. The video quickly went viral, prompting more than 200,000 people to sign an online petition demanding that the Rotenberg Center end the practice.
The error of his ways
The petition drive was launched by Gregory Miller, a former teacher’s assistant at the school. On Wednesday, along with McCollins’ mother Cheryl and a representative from the online-organizing site Change.org, Miller brought those names to the State House.
“We’re taught to believe this is the only school that can help these children in the whole world,” Miller said. “And then you realize afterward — what was I thinking? Because all around the world, they have programs where they use … positive support for these children.”
Rotenberg: take it with a grain of salt
On Miller’s list of politicians to visit: House Speaker Bob DeLeo, whose chamber has repeatedly stopped attempts to make shock therapy illegal.
Mary Ellen Burns, a spokesperson for the Rotenberg Center, told WGBH that Miller’s criticisms should be taken with a measure of skepticism. According to Burns, Miller was a passionate advocate of electroshock therapy during his employment at the Rotenberg Center. In addition, she said, he left the school after being suspended for poor performance.