The state's highest education-policy board is considering a proposal to stop sending New York school children to out-of-state facilities that use electric shock to treat psychological disorders.
Although its methods often ignite controversy, Rotenberg, which has about 200 children and about 50 adults, is licensed by the Massachusetts education and mental retardation departments. The aversion-therapy device -- the Graduated Electronic Decelerator -- is approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a neurological therapeutic device. Students wear it as a backpack, and electrodes are placed on their arms, torso and legs. A transmitter controlled by staff emits a shock that lasts no longer than two seconds.
While the American Psychiatric Association has no policy regarding the use of mild shock for behavior modification, individual experts say they are surprised at the methods in place at Rotenberg. Edward Carr, a Stony Brook University psychology professor who specializes in autism and mental retardation, called the therapy "primitive."