TASH seeks to eliminate the use of aversive interventions as an acceptable strategy for behavior modification or control, and promote positive and proactive strategies to prevent dangerous situations. – TASH National Agenda, Human Rights
A Values Perspective
Despite being the largest minority population in the U.S., individuals with disabilities continue to have their human and civil rights abridged and ignored through stigmatism, segregation, abuse and neglect. Persons with disabilities are far too often viewed and treated as second-class citizens, and far too often discriminated against in our society.
Over the years, TASH has gained international acclaim for our uncompromising stand against separatism, stigmatization, abuse and neglect. We have actively promoted the full inclusion and participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of life. No one should be forced to live, work or learn in a segregated setting, and all individuals have the right to direct their life. For the past 35 years, our human rights record has been exemplified by legislative victories, landmark court cases, commitment to progressive scientific inquiry, dissemination of best practices and advocacy.
A major issue to which TASH devotes an ongoing effort is the abolishment of the use of aversive procedures to control the behavior of children and adults with disabilities. In public and private schools and in residential facilities across the country, people with disabilities are subjected to electric shock, sprayed with water, forced to inhale ammonia and ingest pepper sauce, and are pinched and hit — all in the name of treatment. It is well established that it is not necessary to use pain or intimidation to change even the most difficult behavior problems.
People with disabilities, by virtue of their disability, are often unable to speak out against abuses that would not be tolerated if they were imposed on the elderly, school children, prisoners or even animals. TASH actively works to abolish the use of aversive procedures by exposing these abuses and organizing in support of protective policy and legislation. We were the first national organization to publish a statement calling for the cessation of such techniques and continue to take the most stringent position toward eliminating mistreatment of this type.
TASH Resolutions: Cessation of Capitol Investment in Segregated Settings | Deinstitutionalization | Positive Behavioral Supports | Sexuality | Unncessary and Dehumanizing Medical Treatments | Alternatives to Guardianship | The Right to Communicate | Opposing the Legalization of Physician Assisted Suicide
What We’re Doing
TASH works to realize these values by leading the charge for the elimination of the use of aversive practices – including restraint, seclusion, shock and other practices – against people with disabilities. In recent years this work has taken many forms, including the creation of position statements and policy briefs, advocating for federal and state legislation, publishing guides and training curriculum and through strategic partnerships, such as the National Center on Trauma-Informed Care.
TASH is also the founder and leader of the Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion (APRAIS), a coalition that has fought since 2004 to eliminate harmful and dehumanizing practices as a means of managing challenging behavior (learn more about APRAIS).
Recently, TASH commission a film, Restraint and Seclusion: Hear Our Stories, that highlights the first-person accounts of individuals and families affected by abusive practices in schools. Through a nationwide effort – the Stop Hurting Kids campaign – we rallied individuals and groups across the country in support of ending abusive practices. The film, which is available at https://stophurtingkids.com is accompanied by training materials, and has sparked a much-needed conversation for change in our schools.
Stemming from the historical context of mass institutionalization, neglect and abuse of people with disabilities – often from the time they were born – TASH continues its work to reinstate, preserve and protect the self-determination rights of people with disabilities. A modern-day remnant of institutionalization is the rampant use of guardianship, whereby courts legally remove decision-making rights from an individual and grant them to a guardian – who may even be a stranger – or the state. TASH has consistently advocated for alternatives to guardianship with a focus on supported decision-making.
TASH also maintains and cultivates partnership with national civil rights organizations to broaden our message. When we frame the human rights of individuals with disabilities within the larger context of civil rights, we are able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with allies throughout this community to have a great impact on the needs and rights of everyone.