Walk a mile in our shoes: an open letter from New York families to State Senator Jabari Brisport

By Families of severely autistic adults | November 29, 2022

Dear Senator Jabari Brisport,

This letter is from the friends, families, and supporters of numerous New Yorkers who are in great jeopardy because of an uneducated and unresearched position that you are pushing.

These New Yorkers have severe autism that cause them to often injure themselves and the people around them. Their actions are often extremely violent and the wounds that they cause, both physically and mentally, are beyond severe. We know. We handle the episodes day and night. We pray for them day and night. We often cry for them day and night.

We have seen our loved ones repeatedly hit their heads so hard that it blinds them. We have seen them bloodied and bruised by their own hands. We have seen other people severely injured by them. We have seen attempts to treat them in New York facilities with no success.

Now, we have finally found the Judge Rotenberg Center, a facility in Canton, Massachusetts that knows how to treat our family members. Yes, a very small portion of the treatment is controversial, and, at times, may involve a harmless two-second skin shock, but the results are clear and profound. Thanks to this treatment, many of us are looking forward to welcoming our sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles home for the Holidays.

We want to make several points very clear. First, we know what this treatment feels like. We have tested and felt the skin shock ourselves. Second, this treatment is a safe and a last resort and is only given after the most restrictive approval process on Earth. It must be prescribed by a licensed clinician, approved by a state judge, approved by an outside expert, and then consented by the person’s guardian. Third, it is not given to any New York child. All patients are adults.

Yet, you, as an elected official, want to take away from us the only treatment that works leaving us with nothing. Our message to you: walk a mile in our shoes. I want to see you try to hold a loved one as tightly as you can so they don’t get hurt – to no avail. I want to see you have holidays alone because a treatment is not effective, and they have to be locked in an institution. Nothing means more to us than our family members. This treatment has been a lifesaver. We are outraged that you are pushing so hard to take this treatment away from us – a push that if successful will cause such turmoil and may cost us the lives of our loved ones.

We pray that you look at the facts. We ask you to stop relying on falsehoods. We demand that you listen to the families.