The Autistic Self Advocacy Network strongly condemns the Association for Behavior Analysis International for their decision to feature the Judge Rotenberg Center at their 2015 annual conference. The Judge Rotenberg Center, which uses contingent electric shock to modify the behavior of disabled students and has been condemned by the United Nation’s special rapporteur on torture, is listed as both a presenter as well as a Bronze sponsor for the ABAI annual conference from May 22nd–26th.
As specified in the conference materials, sponsorship indicates that the “ABAI Convention Sponsors have been approved by the Organizational Review Committee as being aligned with ABAI’s mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice (p. 19).” In addition to sponsorship, the Judge Rotenberg Center will maintain a booth and present 3 separate sessions.
It is long past time for ABAI to address the profound, ongoing, and systemic ethical problems fundamentally infused throughout their field. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network demands that ABAI renounce the reprehensible torture of disabled students at the Judge Rotenberg Center, remove the JRC as a sponsor, vendor, and presenter, and bar them from future conferences. We further demand that ABAI engage in a broad-ranging dialogue which recognizes the need to begin to address, reform, and rectify the pervasive ethical lapses of its provider network. Autistic people have a right to respectful, ethically sound, and person-centered supports and services; not torture.
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is the leading disability rights organization led by and for autistic people. Founded in 2006, ASAN has chapters across the country and works to increase the representation of Autistic people in policymaking and public conversations around autism and developmental disability.