Use of Aversives

See also:    Abuse    Behavior    Applied Behavior Analysis (Lovaas)    Murder    Restraints    Electric Shock Studies   

Internet Resources

The program allowed the 19-year old to be limited to as few as 300 calories a day. She was deprived of food for merely having the wrong answer on the computer.
Coalition for the Legal Rights of People with Disabilities
Psychology Today, 1974
O. Ivar Lovaas, Paul Chance
Pain as a tool increases the power professionals have over vulnerable people while it decreases the changes of a positive human relationship between those who choose pain and those who are hurt.
John O'Brien
A new initiative to protect children from abuse in their schools, treatment programs, and residential facilities, responding to deaths, injuries and trauma resulting from inhumane practices in programs serving children and youth with disabilities.
Family Alliance to Stop Abuse and Neglect
Rep. Carol Donovan has filed legislation in the MA Legislature to prohibit the use of painful aversive procedures. These bills seek to outlaw painful behavioral modification including electric shocks as methods of "treating" people with disabilities.
Jennifer Honig, Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee
Severe physical punishment is usually forbidden in most institutional settings including schools. Formerly, the rules were less stringent and Ivar Lovaas legally used electric shock to successfully treat institutionalized autistic children.
Leland Swenson
Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1977, no. 10, pp. 489-499 (1977)
R.M. Foxx
It is difficult to imagine a "participant" choosing to spend his days in remediation, or a respectful relationship in which one "partner" controls the other through aversives. Where, readers might ask, is the chapter of this book in which "participants" with autism share their views, and what efforts are made to hear and honor their words?
Forms of aversive therapy which are not prohibited by the WAC warrant close scrutiny and require compliance with certain procedural and substantive safeguards: Isolation, physical restraint
Seattle School District
Leo Cotter's experiment with patients in a Vietnamese mental hospital was controversial when it was first published in 1967. He describes the use of large numbers of unmodified electroconvulsive shock treatments as aversive treatment.
J. P. Das Developmental Disabilities Centre
To my knowledge, neither the school, nor Matthew Israel, the Director, has ever submitted data, with replicatable methodology, demonstrating the success of any of these therapies -- none -- to any journal for peer review. In light of the highly invasive nature of many of these procedures, that unwillingness to submit the work to peer review is striking. Since JRC so vehemently proclaims the success of its techniques, this unwillingness to share the information with other schools that might wish to test the "success" of these techniques is also notable.
Polyxane S. Cobb
A parent whose child had been traumatized before mine told me 'the group turned on me when I spoke openly about my child being traumatized. They told me to shut up, don't give ABA a bad name.'
Children Injured by Restraint and Aversives
Before treatment, severely self-abusive patient Mike Shields had to be kept in restraints because he would bang his head uncontrollably. Now, he moves more freely, with his impulses curbed by the electric shock.
Brian Jenkins
The reestablishment of trust and connectedness to others is the factor credited with improving the lives of people with autism who believe, or whose families believe, that certain of their symptoms originated in psychological trauma.
Autism National Committee
When we allow punishments to be used on persons with disabilities which would be illegal if used on persons without disabilities, we are denying them equal protection under the law.
Within the last five years, Risley, Kushner, Lovaas and his associates and several others have presented us with some intriguing examples of a relatively new technique for application to clinical problems of behavior. They have been able to show good results of this technique: the problems to which it was applied were remediated, and (especially in the cases of Risley and Lovaas) the side effects were almost entirely desirable ones. These investigators have been able to point to an extensive area of earlier research with animals using analogous techniques, out of which a good deal of the human application was derived. And they have shown that both the animal experiments and the recent human applications can be related to a common body of theory concerning the behavior of organisms in general.
D.M. Baer
Our central mission is to provide a national/international support network for parents whose children (including adult children) have been traumatized, injured or killed by abusive behavior modification (ABA) and restraint.
The NIH Consensus report contained reviews of the punishment literature and the reinforcement and stimulus-based (i.e. "nonaversive") literature found that shock and other contingent stimuli were effective in producing a 90% reduction in 86% of cases involving self-injury, and a 60% of cases involving aggression.
Robert E. von Heyn, Matthew L. Israel, Robert W. Worsham
The originality of this particular SIBIS case study is that programmed and systematic effort at establishing conditioned punishment was included in the intervention. Results indicate that a zero-level response was rapidly reached, and that the conditioned punisher (i.e. verbal prompt þ movement towards the place where SIBIS was kept) was sufficient to maintain treatment effects. Continuous assessment after treatment and formal observation session at 7 months follow-up revealed that could be removed from the natural environment of the child while maintaining a therapeutic effect.These results were interpreted as the effects of the explicit pairing between the delivery of electric stimulations and previously neutral stimuli, which were initially ineffective to elicit any response, or to suppress SIB. Close and extended monitoring during and after treatment failed to reveal the presence of negative side effects associated with SIBIS, whereas a number of positive effects were observed.
Sarah Jeanne Salvy, James A. Mulick, Eric Butter, Rita Kahng Bartlett, Thomas R. Linscheid
The new industry attracted operators who saw it as a way to wield power, and many applied their own unique brand of "behavior modification" therapy, from slaps (to) isolation, to the electronic stinging of autistic children with a cattle prod.
Rick Thoma
Direct care staff in facilities which permitted the use of strong aversives reported more intense feelings of personal accomplishment on the inventory than did subjects whose programs were limited to the use of mild aversives.
S.L. Harris, J.S. Handleman, M.J. Gill, P.L. Fong
Our data suggest that repeated shock to the same location is likely to be more effective to establish suppression than repeated shock to different locations.
P.C. Duker et al.
Conclusively, the experimental investigation performed in 1965 in attempt to find an alternative treatment method for autism was found by several people to be ethically wrong.
Sarah Rogers
Schlag was appalled at Harding's methods for the treatment of these people and told him so. 'Well, I'm glad they made that new law. That is really terrible using such barbaric methods to control persons' behavior.'
Jonathan Mitchell
After play time one morning, a therapist announced it was snack time. Marcel ignored her. He sat down. She pounced, pinning his arms behind his back and bending Marcel forward in the chair. 'It's snack time,' she snapped.
Harlan Spector
The aide claimed her two years in teacher Mila Kitt's class were marked by forcing children to eat their vomit and placing children in restrictive holds for failing to recite the day of the week.
Steve Friess, Review Journal
It is apparent from the positions taken by various professional and other organizations that the use of contingent electric shock as a behavior management intervention by use of the SIBIS device or otherwise is highly controversial. (P Ex 35, 36, 51 and 52; D Ex 18; PA Ex 4.) All of the experts who testified in this proceeding acknowledged this fact. But significantly, none of them also, after having preliminarily assessed Terry and his situation, would categorically rule out the possibility of ever utilizing the SIBIS device with [ ] if generally accepted professional standards/guidelines for the use of contingent electric shock and other aversive techniques were met in doing so, most notably all other reasonable, appropriate interventions had been tried and failed. Some of them candidly stated that they had not, and did not believe they would, confront a situation where contingent electric shock would need to be utilized since their approaches to those of others, they believed, would be successful. They further indicated that while they would not professionally be willing to supervise such an intervention, they knew of other respected professionals in their field who could and would.
Operates residential and day programs that provide educational, treatment and respite services for children and adults with developmental disabilities or emotional/ ehavior disorders. (Provides electric shock as an aversive.)
This paper reviews the research in punishment for specific behaviors of autistic children. I propose that the rationale for punishment contradicted previous behavior analytic research sometimes in breathtaking ways. I will juxtaposition these fallacies against the arguments of B. F. Skinner who advocated against punishment.
This paper reviews the research in punishment for specific behaviors of autistic children. I propose that the rationale for punishment contradicted previous behavior analytic research sometimes in breathtaking ways. I will juxtaposition these fallacies against the arguments of B. F. Skinner who advocated against punishment.
(Lovaas defends) the use of physically aversive techniques in situations where a child engages in self-injurious or self- stimulatory behaviors which prevent a child from attending to instruction...
Steve Buckmann
When we allow punishments to be used on persons with disabilities which would be illegal if used on persons without disabilities, we are denying them equal protection under the law.
Autism National Committee
Helping people work with people, not on them.
a greater willingness to publish studies showing treatment failures and other undesirable outcomes during punishment may be helpful.
Dorothea Lerman
When Bradley Bernstein has a violent outburst at his Chicago group home, the staff responds the way his parents have instructed. They shock the 45-year-old autistic man with an electric cattle prod.
Chicago Tribune
The Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders endorses the right of qualified educators and other professionals to employ appropriate behavior reduction procedures when such methods are undertaken with suitable planning and adherence to the guidelines offered above. The organization does not sanction the use of corporal punishment, highly aversive, or non-empirically validated procedures for managing problem behaviors of children and youth with behavioral disorders.
Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders
The use of electric currents on parts of the body other than the head does not constitute ECT. It represents extreme punishment, in actuality, a form of torture. To describe the procedures as 'aversive therapy' is inappropriate.
Kerry Hempenstall
These problems are all possible but rarely important in well planned programs: emotional reactions (crying), escape and avoidance, aggression, modeled punishment in clients and therapists, the potential for masochism
Queens University, Psychology 325
Electric shock, employed as a decelerative consequence, has proven to be one of the most effective and most thoroughly researched behavior modification tools (Carr & Lovaas, 1983; Favell et al., 1982; Matson & Taras, 1989)
Matthew L. Israel, Robert E. von Heyn, Daniel A. Connolly, Judge Rotenberg Center
It is currently acceptable in New Jersey to subject developmentally disabled individuals to procedures that cannot legally be used on prisoners, nursing home residents, psychiatric patients, and even on animals.
Having had the opportunity to research the various theories of causation and treatment models of SIB, I am left with the conclusion that the causation varies from individual to individual and that the most effective treatment program, in terms of immediacy of effect and minimal negative side effects is the behavioral approach of combining contingent electric shock with DRO reinforcement. The combination of contingent electrical shock with the DRO reinforcement reduces the SIB quickly and allows for acquisition of adaptive skills. While punishment is not met with high social opinion, ethically the severity of injury that may, and in all probability will, occur in its absence must be considered.
Ronni S. Stefl
This article reviews the results of a literature search, for self-injurious biting, organized in such a way as to help a clinician who is attempting to develop a specific treatment program for this maladaptive behavior. This is a serious problem with the statistics for self-biting suggesting that 6.5% of all clients with mental retardation and/or developmental disabilities engage in this behavior at least occasionally.
Matthew G. Hile
The State Board of Regents has recently placed tighter restrictions on the use of so-called "aversive therapy," which also includes "hitting, slapping, pinching, kicking, hurling, strangling, shoving, deep muscle squeezes" and other similar actions. It is appalling that there are any circumstances under which educators can engage in such conduct. Of the many factors that contribute to the endemic problem of abuse and neglect in facilities serving people with mental disabilities, perhaps none is more important than an essential lack of respect for the common humanity we share. The labels we attach to people and their behaviors are often the first step in distancing "them" from "us" and for tolerating for "them" attitudes, conduct, policy, practice and even laws that we would find abhorrent if applied to "us."
Clarence Sundram, Albany Times Union
Skin shock is not generally used in treatment programs today. This is due to an unfortunate current cultural bias against aversive treatment procedures as well as a general lack of information among the public.
Matthew L. Israel
Rimland contends that aversive procedures such as "mild electric shock" are needed for controlling difficult behavior in programs and classrooms... Ironically, cosmetic attractiveness of the IARET goals and publications does indeed seem to be an acceptable substitute for describing the true nature of electroshocks, ammonia sprays, isolation rooms, white noise helmets, restraints, and a vast array of other punishments and tortures used to "treat" people with disabilities.
Autism National Committee
What ever happened to the little children that Ivar Lovaas used painful electric shock on? He had them stand on an electrified floor, my guess is, barefoot. Did Lovaas join them on the electrified floor? Does anyone care? Did they get an apology?

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