Mom, former teacher urge passage of legislation to limit shock therapy

Camera footage of Andre McCollins being shocked.

The mother of a student at a Canton school known for using shock therapy on its students wants state legislators to feel her son’s pain — literally.

Cheryl McCollins, whose son Andre was a patient at the Judge Rotenberg Center, was joined by a former teacher’s aide during a visit to state legislators yesterday at the State House. While there the two delivered thousands of petition signatures and urged that legislators pass an amendment that would limit the practice.

They also made a request that lawmakers get shocked themselves to experience what the patients feel.
“The lawmakers — have they felt the shock? Do they feel the pain,” said McCollins. The patients “can’t help themselves so it’s up to us to help them.”

Video of McCollins’ son was played earlier this year during the trial for a lawsuit she brought against the school. It showed Andre McCollins being restrained on the floor and being shocked. He can be heard screaming in the video.

Greg Miller previously worked at the school and said he was shocked for training. He likened the practice to “torture.”

“This is sick. It’s absolutely sick,” he said. “I am ashamed I worked there.”

The center has said it “treats the most behaviorally involved students in the country” and uses the shock treatment only after other treatments failed.

The effort was made yesterday as House negotiators decide the fate of a Senate budget amendment that would ban the use of shocks on people with disabilities.

Calls placed to some of the legislators visited by McCollins and Miller were not returned.

Lawsuit was settled

During a trial for a civil lawsuit filed by Cheryl McCollins against the center, a video of the shock treatment was played for jurors. McCollins’ son was shocked 31 times for apparently refusing to take off his jacket. McCollins said she was not aware of the level of treatment.

“The parents have been misinformed,” she said.

The lawsuit was settled and details were not disclosed.


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