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Israel Still Responding to JRC E-mails, Quick to Recommend Shocks

posted Jun 20, 2012, 6:02 PM by OcuppyJudge Rotenberg   [ updated Jun 21, 2012, 4:39 AM ]
This story and attached e-mail exchange is from a press release recently received by Occupy JRC.

In a matter of days, a conference committee made up of three Senators and three Representatives from the House will decide the fate of Senate Budget Amendment #548.  If they keep #548, introduced by Senator Brian A. Joyce in May, there will be a total ban on shocks and other aversives at the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC).

Critics of JRC call the shocks torture, saying that nothing justifies that sort of abuse.  On the other hand, JRC supporters say that the shocks save lives.  In fact, one of the primary defenses of JRC’s approach is that they reportedly care for children with the most severe behavior problems in the country and only use the shock approach where all else has failed. 


So, why is Matthew Israel so quick to recommend shocks for children who are diagnosed as bipolar, a relatively common diagnosis these days.  And, perhaps even more importantly, why is Matthew Israel recommending anything at all, given that he is no longer supposed to be working for JRC per a court settlement where he was accused of destroying evidence to hide misuse of shocks with two students?

As detailed in a series of e-mails below beginning in March of this year, a concerned mother reached out to Dr. Israel at his JRC e-mail address in regards to her bipolar child.  Dr. Israel responded within a half hour to say that yes, indeed, the shocks could be helpful.  He did not ask any additional questions before making this determination, but did encourage the young mother to call him to talk further.  He provided both his personal e-mail and cell phone for her to do so.  Over the course of time, Israel spoke to the mother by both phone and e-mail, informing her that JRC can provide free lawyers to come to her school district to fight to get her son admitted to JRC and assuring her that there are many children ‘just like her son’ at the school.  He concluded the discourse (which ended in May) by informing her that JRC is the “best [school] in the country and probably the world.

This exchange should serve as a high alert to all who argue that JRC should be allowed to continue because they seek to support only the children who are the most ‘severe’ and only to save their lives.  The Conference Committee should also consider this a red flag as they determine the fate of Amendment #548 and whether or not this practice should be allowed to continue. 

 

FROM:

·         Sally Westerley

TO:

·         m.israel@judgerc.org  

Sunday, March 18, 2012 11:36 PM

Dear Mr. Israel,

 

I came across your site 'effectivetreatment.com' tonight while I was doing research for my son who was diagnosed as bipolar when he was 6 and who has become increasingly out of control.  I am wondering if you have studied skin-shock treatment for children with this type of problem?  Forgive me if this is information that I could have found on your effectivetreatment site.  I'm just hoping you could give me a quick answer and point me in the right direction if it is something that I should be looking into more seriously.

 

Thanks,

 

Sally

 

Re: Question

FROM:

·     Matthew Israel 

TO:

·         Sally Westerley

Monday, March 19, 2012 12:10 AM

I am sure this treatment could be helpful with your son. Please call me if you would like to discuss. [number withheld for privacy] (I am in CA, so I am on Pacific Coast Time).

 

FW: Question

FROM:

·         Blenkush, Nathan  

TO:

·         sallywesterley@yahoo.com

Monday, March 19, 2012 11:14 AM

Dear Ms. Westerley,

I am sorry to hear that your son is having trouble. Dr. Israel retired recently. However, I would be happy to answer your question.

First, I would like you to consider the following paper regarding bipolar disorder in children:

http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/64/9/1032

Second, we have addressed specific behaviors exhibited by people assigned diagnoses such as mood disorder and bipolar disorder with contingent skin shock when positive reinforcement and other behavioral procedures have been ineffective. The following paper describes the treatment of aggression exhibited by children and adults assigned a wide range of diagnoses (including mood disorder and bipolar disorder):

http://www.judgerc.org/AggressionPaper.pdf

I hope this information is helpful. If there is anything I can do to help, please feel free to contact me.

Regards,

Nathan Blenkush Ph.D, BCBA-D

Clinician

Judge Rotenberg Center

250 Turnpike Street

Canton, MA 02021

Office: (781) 828-2202 x 2330

Fax:    (781) 828-2804

 

Re: Question

FROM:

·         Sally Westerley

TO:

·       Matthew Israel

Thursday, May 17, 2012 12:52 AM

Dear Mr. Israel,

 

I am so sorry I didn't see this!  (It was in my spam box which I just sorted through in search of something else.)  Since I hadn't really held much hope that you would have time to respond to me directly, it hadn't really surprised me when I didn't get a response.  I'm wondering if it would still be ok for me to call?  Again, I'm so sorry that I didn't see your message when you first sent it.

 

Thank you,

 

Sally

 

 

Re: Question

FROM:

·       Matthew Israel 

TO:

·         Sally Westerley

Thursday, May 17, 2012 2:39 AM

Dear Sally:

Please do call me and we can discuss your son.  Or you can give me your telephone number and some times that would be convenient for you, and I can try to call you at one of those times.

Matthew Israel

 

 

Re: Question

FROM:

·         Sally Westerley

TO:

·      Matthew Israel 

Thursday, May 24, 2012 10:42 PM

Dear Mr. Israel,

 

I just wanted to thank you again for taking the time to talk to me tonight.  I'm still struggling with so much guilt, even though I know you're right that I'm just not trained to deal with this sort of problem.  I work at a bank!  What do I know about mental health and clinical work!  But it's my son, and a part of me still feels like I'm failing him.  But talking to you and hearing that there are kids like mine at your school and that there is help for him and the shocks and other treatment you offer can work for kids in his situation... Well, at least it gives me a little hope, because there just isn't much of a feeling of hope when I'm talking to the school system these days.  It really helped to hear that JRC even has lawyers who might be able to help me with the local school system.  I swear, the school acts like their job is to fight with me and make things worse at least half the time.  I'm going to call the school as you suggested as soon as I can get a free moment (those aren't easy to come by these days) during the day and see what my next steps might be.  I will definitely let you know what ends up happening.

 

Sincerely,

 

Sally

 

 

Re: Question

FROM:

·        Matthew Israel 

TO:

·         Sally Westerley

Thursday, May 24, 2012 11:21 PM

You are very welcome. I retired from JRC on June 31 of last year and am now living in California with my wife. Please let me know how things turn out. You are not alone with this problem  . There are many other parents with the exact same problem. Have you considered joining one of the chapters o

Sent from my iPhone

 

 

Re: Question

FROM:

·       Matthew Israel  

TO:

·         Sally Westerley

Thursday, May 24, 2012 11:25 PM

... of the Autism Society of America? Also there is no need to feel guilty. You are doing your best.

Matthew


Sent from my iPhone

 

 

Re: Question

FROM:

·         Sally Westerley

TO:

·       Matthew Israel  

Thursday, May 24, 2012 11:28 PM

Oh, well, thank you doubly for talking with me given your retirement!  In terms of the Autism Society of America... So, as I'd mentioned, my son is diagnosed as bipolar not autistic so it doesn't sound like that would be a match for me.  Just so I understand, JRC does work with kids with bipolar, not just autism, right?

 

Thanks,

 

Sally

 

 

Re: Question

FROM:

·         Sally Westerley

TO:

·       Matthew Israel 

Saturday, May 26, 2012 7:50 AM

Dear Mr. Israel,

 

I didn't hear back from you after this last question.  I just want to make sure that I hadn't misunderstood.. I thought on the phone you were saying that there were lots of kids like my son at JRC (with diagnoses of bipolar) and not just autistic kids, but then was confused by your asking if we'd joined the Autism Society.  Can you just let me know... Do kids have to be Autistic to go to JRC?  I plan on calling them to set up a tour on Tuesday.

 

Thanks,

 

Sally

 

 

Re: Question

FROM:

·       Matthew Israel

TO:

·         Sally Westerley

CC:

·         Karen _LaChance,  

·         R.Antonelli@judgerc.org  

Saturday, May 26, 2012 2:52 PM

Yes, there are lots of students at JRC who have a bipolar diagnosis. When and if you visit there you will be able to verify that. JRC has a near-zero rejection policy, and accepts students with a wide variety of diagnoses. The best form of treatment for children with that diagnosis is behavior modification and not psychotropic drugs. I thought you might find it helpful to meet other parents with special needs children who may have some of the same feelings and concerns that you have expressed. I don't know of any groups for parents of bipolar children, although there must be some--even if only online. When I suggested the autism group, I had forgotten you said your son was bipolar. Please tell me how your call to JRC goes. Try to speak to either Karen Lachance or Ralph Antonelli. You are very fortunate that you have found JRC in your online research. They give more help than any other program gives to help a parent gain admission. And their program is the best in the country and probably in the world.

 Sincerely,im

Matthew


Sent from my iPhone

 


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