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  1. #1
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    IL - Cattle prod: autistic son

    CHICAGO (AP) - Bradley Bernstein's parents say an electric cattle prod is the only thing that stops him from banging his head and violently punching his eyes, nearly blinding himself.

    The Illinois couple's fight to continue shock treatment on their severely autistic 48-year-old son and the uproar over a Massachusetts school that uses similar treatment, have pulled back the curtain on this extreme form of behavior modification. Critics call it outmoded, barbaric and unethical.


    http://www.saukvalley.com/articles/2...5337906853.txt

    I find this 'treatment' hard to digest.

    i don't understand what's involved as i have no dealings with an autistic person.

  2. #2
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    I have to say that in this article, Dr. Israel and the parents won my support. This type of aversion therapy really seems to have helped their son - now he will often stop dangerous, self-destructive behavior when he just sees the shocker.

    While the thought of shocking a human being (especially one as vulnerable as someone with severe autism) is naturally repulsive, this seems to be a case where the behavior is more dangerous than the shock...and the shock appears to be effective in diminishing/extinguishing the behavior.

    I certainly understand the controversy, though.
    I do not intend to tiptoe through life only to arrive safely at death!

  3. #3
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    These poor parents. If the son is 48 then they are at least in their late 60s. They did what the doctors told them and tried to do what was best for their son. They took care of him as long as they could.

    Now the rules change but their son doesn't know that. Now he's risking permanent injury and maybe even more serious pain because medicine has changed.

    I can understand not allowing doctors to start this treatment anymore, but they need to be careful about phasing it out for older patients like this man for whom it has been working for decades. You can't stop something like that cold turkey.


    If he is allergic to the meds, what are they supposed to do to stop the self-injuring behavior? I mean, what kid hasn't stuck their finger in a socket?


    I feel so bad for them. Unfortunately, if the gov't allows it, then some moron will start using it on his toddler. But these doctors acting like the parents are abusive tick me off. They didn't make this up. Where do you think they got the idea? From their doctors!!!

  4. #4
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    I saw this story on the news yesterday and agree with the parents, I've worked with autistic patients and they can do so much damage to themselves, years ago there was a woman who caused her own blindness due to her head banging so bad.

    VB

  5. #5
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    We have 3 cattle prods here. Of course, we have cattle, also hogs. I've used the prods to push cattle through the processing of getting them vaccinated and branded. It's great for getting reluctant hogs into the trailer. I have accidently been "prodded" and believe me, it hurt like the dickens. I do use them to push the cattle through the chutes and if possible I don't hit the button for the "juice" if they move along nicely. Just guide them along. You do have to give them a shock occasionally if they try to turn against the herd. I have no idea about using a prod on a human being. I suppose if it has been used and works to control the severe older autistic, then I can't say it's cruelty. I certainly don't think any fool should think it's ok for use on toddlers. Good grief.

  6. #6
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    Maybe the prod was approved for use in an adult but what about the school using the same type thing?

  7. #7
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    Kitty Dukakis swears by this therapy. Indeed, revulsion is the natural reaction but I don't think it should be dismissed as easily as it has been.

  8. #8
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    I would hope medicine has advanced without using outmoded techniques. This man with his disabilities isn't employable and is injurious to himself. But, prodding with devices is inhumane. He should be as comfortable as possible not made to suffer for something out of his control.

    I am sorry but forcing is aberrant control. To think that this is OK is disgusting. If free will can't play then don't hurt. This is a very complicated issue. I almost retracted everythng I said. I am suggesting drugs to help but that is control as well.

    Obviously I don't have an answer.

  9. #9
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    How is this any different than electronic fences for dogs?

    I understand that this is a human and not a pet, but as far as behavoir modification VS humane treatment, how is it different?
    The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
    Bertrand Russell

  10. #10
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    OneLostGrl is offline I'm going against the grain- I'm going sane
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    I know we have a couple of parents of Autistic children on WS and wonder if they would be willing to share with us- their thoughts on this kind of "therapy" for Autistic people...


  11. #11
    My son Dylan, who turns 4 in two weeks, has been diagnosed as having an autism spectrum disorder. Autism is as unique as the person who has it, I guess. I personally wanted to puke reading the title of this thread. I calmed down a little after I read the article, but I'm still bothered. Probably too close to home right now. I do know that with my son (who fortunately hasn't shown any tendency to harm himself) quiet talk does wonders. It doesn't have to even be words. I've referred to it as "baby whispering" even though he's pre-K age now.

    My sister Rhonda, who is now 47, is also autistic. Between my son and my sister... I frankly can't look at this "therapy" and make it make any sense for me whatsoever. None.

    Steve/Mr. A

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by misterallgood View Post
    My son Dylan, who turns 4 in two weeks, has been diagnosed as having an autism spectrum disorder. Autism is as unique as the person who has it, I guess. I personally wanted to puke reading the title of this thread. I calmed down a little after I read the article, but I'm still bothered. Probably too close to home right now. I do know that with my son (who fortunately hasn't shown any tendency to harm himself) quiet talk does wonders. It doesn't have to even be words. I've referred to it as "baby whispering" even though he's pre-K age now.

    My sister Rhonda, who is now 47, is also autistic. Between my son and my sister... I frankly can't look at this "therapy" and make it make any sense for me whatsoever. None.

    Steve/Mr. A

    I'm sorry to learn Dylan suffers from autism, Steve. i'm also bothered by the cattle prod story, although i have no answers.

  13. #13
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    I think it says a lot about the parents that they are still involved with their son after all these years.

    47 years ago we didn't know half the things we know now about autism, and perhaps he's not as "treatable" w/normal conventions as someone might be that's diagnosed at a young age currently.

    I'm not sure how I feel about the prod. I don't think the parents, who do seem loving and caring, would do this if it didn't help their son. I would hate to see it used on my daughter, should she ever develop these tendencies. Then again, I hate giving her medications, but they do help w/her seizures and hyperactivity. (No, she's not a zombie and yes, we've tried alternatives to meds.)

    I think the most interesting paragraph in this article is this one:

    But Israel favors the technique over psychiatric drugs that he says make students too drowsy to learn and says most critics "have never seen children who have blinded themselves, or banged their head to the point of brain injury, or bit a hole in their cheek."

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by BarnGoddess View Post
    We have 3 cattle prods here. Of course, we have cattle, also hogs. I've used the prods to push cattle through the processing of getting them vaccinated and branded. It's great for getting reluctant hogs into the trailer. I have accidently been "prodded" and believe me, it hurt like the dickens. I do use them to push the cattle through the chutes and if possible I don't hit the button for the "juice" if they move along nicely. Just guide them along. You do have to give them a shock occasionally if they try to turn against the herd. I have no idea about using a prod on a human being. I suppose if it has been used and works to control the severe older autistic, then I can't say it's cruelty. I certainly don't think any fool should think it's ok for use on toddlers. Good grief.

    Can I ask what might be a stupid question...are there different levels you can set it on? I mean, a full grown bull might need a bigger jolt than a young...um...goat? (I don't have a lot of "outdoor life" experience )

    Like the poster above who mentioned the pet collars, I know the one that my parents had years ago for their lab had several settings. Their dog only needed it to be set on a slight buzzing to be effective for him, while a friend's dog would walk right through it on that setting. On the buzzing setting I could hold it in my hand and it didn't hurt - uncomfortable, but not pain.

    I wonder if that is where the discrepancy comes from in the level of pain described in the article. If it is really like licking a battery, it is hard for me to find that abusive if it is really what keeps him from blinding himself. I mean, I've caught my 10 and 12 yo boys daring each other to do that.

    Even the level of a socket is painful but not as bad as some treatments. I know several families with Autistic children. One of them has to travel to see one of their doctors, and going through airport security is a nightmare. The way their son has to be restrained so they can get through the process is probably more painful for a longer time than this shock, but they have to do it. It is their only hope right now.

    And my middle child would probably much rather have a shock than a shot. He freaks out over injections, yet the nurse thinks nothing of holding him down and telling him he's being a baby when he screams and cries and tries to stop her from doing it. But it's accepted medical practice, just like these shocks were when this family started doing it. In the future, if we decide that it's barbaric, will my children look at me and ask how I could have allowed it?

    I just don't know.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by misterallgood View Post
    My son Dylan, who turns 4 in two weeks, has been diagnosed as having an autism spectrum disorder. Autism is as unique as the person who has it, I guess. I personally wanted to puke reading the title of this thread. I calmed down a little after I read the article, but I'm still bothered. Probably too close to home right now. I do know that with my son (who fortunately hasn't shown any tendency to harm himself) quiet talk does wonders. It doesn't have to even be words. I've referred to it as "baby whispering" even though he's pre-K age now.

    My sister Rhonda, who is now 47, is also autistic. Between my son and my sister... I frankly can't look at this "therapy" and make it make any sense for me whatsoever. None.

    Steve/Mr. A
    My son who also turns 4 in a couple of weeks is suspected to be autistic. We are in the first stages of his evaluation and my wife and I have just completed the GARS ( Gilliam Autisim Rating Scale). Fortunatley he shows no signs of hurting himself. He is more withdrawn and speaks a lot of jibberish.

    I know I could never use a prod on a child BUT, if it was the ONLY recourse in keeping my son as an adult from seriously injuring himself. I would have to consider it.

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