Milford Daily News – July 5 2011
By Kyle Cheney
Lawmakers may have scrapped a plan to heavily restrict the use of skin shock therapy in Massachusetts for severely disabled residents, but the Patrick administration is moving ahead with a proposal that would eliminate the practice for all future patients and require annual reviews for patients already receiving the controversial treatment.
In new regulations proposed by the Department of Developmental Services, treatments that cause physical pain – such as “spanking, slapping, hitting or contingent skin shock,” also known as aversive therapy – would no longer be a permissible treatment option for residents with developmental disabilities.
Only those with court-ordered treatment plans in effect by Sept. 1, 2011 that include aversive therapy would be able to continue receiving it.
The department’s proposal is nearly identical to one that passed the Senate unanimously in May but was dropped in budget negotiations with the House that ended last week.
The issue has lingered for years on Beacon Hill without resolution. Proponents of aversive therapy hail it as a lifesaving treatment and last resort for self-injurious children who would otherwise be subjected to mind-altering psychotropic drugs and daily physical restraints. Critics have ripped it as a form of torture being applied to innocent children, often unnecessarily.