Congress has Supported the FDA’s Right to #StopTheShock

a person holding a sign that says Stop the Shocks

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network welcomes the passing of the omnibus bill with a provision that gives the FDA the right to ban contingent electric shocks used for behavior modification. This is a direct result of your advocacy, whether that be meetings, calls, or emails, demanding that Congress take action to end torture at the Judge Rotenberg Center. For decades, disabled advocates have fought to end the use of electric shocks at the JRC. ASAN is relieved to see that, after years of relentless advocacy by the disability community, Congress has listened to survivors, advocates, and allies and formally acknowledged the FDA’s power to pass a ban on the device. This is a victory, but we cannot close this chapter in history yet. The FDA must now ban the electric skin shock device again in order to #StopTheShock. 

ASAN calls upon the FDA to pass the rule banning the electric skin shot device without delay. Each day that passes is another day that our community members are tortured and traumatized at the Judge Rotenberg Center. In the new year, ASAN and our coalition partners will advocate on multiple fronts to ensure that the FDA releases the rule as quickly as possible. The JRC will certainly challenge any new rule in court as they have with previous attempts to ban torture in the name of treatment, but we are one critical step closer.

Besides authorizing the FDA to ban skin shock, the omnibus bill contains numerous other hard-won victories for the disability community, including but not limited to expanding the number of people who qualify for ABLE accounts by raising age limits in the program, and extending the Money Follows the Person program, which helps us get the supports we need in our communities instead of institutions. The bill also authorizes a nearly $150 million increase for Section 811 mainstream vouchers, which fund affordable housing for people leaving or at risk of entering institutions. These are changes that ASAN has been advocating for in the halls of power and we welcome their inclusion in the bill. We also see areas where Congress has overlooked important issues that affect people with disabilities, including the failure to expand the Child Tax Credit, the lack of drug sentencing reform, and the absence of several long-standing community priorities such as a Section 14(c) certificate phaseout bill. ASAN will continue to fight for change on these important issues, and work to ensure that implementation of these policies include people with disabilities, people of color and other marginalized groups.  

This fight is not over until the JRC is shut down, all institutions are closed, and all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are receiving the services we need to thrive in our own homes and communities. This is not over until restraint and seclusion are banned in every state, until violence against people with disabilities is recognized as violence, not written off as “for our own good.” ASAN will continue to fight for freedom from abuse, torture, segregation, and oppression for all people with IDD and other disabilities. 

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network seeks to advance the principles of the disability rights movement with regard to autism. ASAN believes that the goal of autism advocacy should be a world in which autistic people enjoy equal access, rights, and opportunities. We work to empower autistic people across the world to take control of our own lives and the future of our common community, and seek to organize the autistic community to ensure our voices are heard in the national conversation about us. Nothing About Us, Without Us!