BOSTON (WWLP) - A former staff member of a controversial Massachusetts school that administers shock therapy is now saying that lawmakers should ban the practice outright.
Gregory Miller, a former teacher's assistant of the Judge Rotenberg Center , is inviting lawmakers to try shock therapy themselves, so they have a taste of what his students felt everyday.
Miller handed petitions with move than 250,000 signatures from across the country, asking lawmakers to ban shock therapy and torture in Massachusetts.
Joining him was Cheryl McCollins, whose autistic son Andre was shocked so severely at the Judge Rotenberg Center that he was left in a catatonic state for three days and suffered severe burns to his body.
The school accepts special needs children, many with severe disabilities, and uses aversive therapy like electric shocks to treat them. The United Nations has denounced the school's practices as "torture."
"It's an embarrassment, total embarrassment for the country and Massachusetts to be the only state torturing people. Other countries are noticing," Miller said.
"An education, which is what my son didn't receive. He received torture. And it must stop. And the school must close down," McCollins said.
The school maintains that this is not torture, that most of their students to not receive this type of treatment, and that it provides an important option for children for whom other therapies simply have not worked.
A group called the " Judge Rotenberg Educational Center Parents Association" released a statement to 22News on Wednesday, which called Miller's suggestion that lawmakers try skin shock treatment "the worst political stunt that we have witnessed to date."
"We are outraged that these people would use our vulnerable children as pawns. The right to choose the appropriate and safe treatment for our children, when nothing else has worked, must remain an option for the small percentage of children for whom this is a matter of life and death," the statement said.
For years the Senate has passed a bill banning shock therapy, but it has been consistently blocked by the House of Representatives.
Last year the Department of Developmental Services banned the use of shock therapy on new students admitted to the Judge Rotenberg Center.