Tuesday, July 13, 2010
State Senate to discuss bill limiting shock therapy

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Legislature is set to take up a bill on Tuesday that would limit the use of shock therapy and other controversial treatments sometimes used to treat disabled children.
Defined by the United Nations as torture, shock therapy and other “aversive” treatments like sleep and food deprivation are currently permitted under state law.
The Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton, a residential treatment facility that provides behavior modification therapy for special-needs children and adults, currently treats some patients with shock therapy.
State Sen. Brian Joyce says he has been fighting for more than 10 years to protect disabled children by restricting the use of such treatments.
“I don’t know of a single other facility in the country that utilizes this practice,” Joyce said, “nor do I know a single other state that would allow this practice, which I consider barbaric.”
Advocates of shock therapy, however, believe that they have seen demonstrable positive results in children who have undergone the treatment. Newton resident Louisa Goldberg says her son has benefited dramatically from shock therapy at the Rotenberg Center.
“The legislators, if they really dig into this matter, and really look and see how these kids were acting before and how they’re acting now, they wouldn’t want (the restrictions) either,” Goldberg said.
The Senate bill would allow shock therapy — but each case would require approval from a new state committee.