JRC Founder Matthew L. Israel, Ph.D., studied psychology under the late B.F. Skinner from his undergraduate years through his time as a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University. He received his doctorate in psychology at Harvard in 1960. Dr. Israel became confident that the basic behavioral principles and technologies that Skinner had developed or refined could be fruitfully applied in the treatment of a wide variety of behavior disorders. Behavioral principles appeared to be extraordinarily successful in both explaining and managing behaviors.

In 1971 Matthew Israel founded the Behavior Research Institute (BRI) to put principle into practice. BRI’s first programs were behavioral treatment consultations in the homes of parents of autistic-like children. The first residential program was started in the fall of 1972 within a private home in Cranston, Rhode Island. The program at that time served two adolescent students, one being the schizophrenic child of the parents whose home was opened as the treatment center. In 1994, BRI became the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center (JRC), in honor of the memory of the Massachusetts judge whose courageous decisions and actions helped to preserve JRC’s program from extinction at the hands of state licensing officials in the 1980s.

Use of Rewards and Aversives

JRC employs a system of unparalleled positive rewards as behavior reinforcements. In a great majority of our students and clients, the rewards system is highly effective in teaching them to control their poor behaviors. If, however, treatment with the use of rewards, loss of privileges, fines, other non-physical aversives and educational procedures, prove insufficiently effective by themselves, then the parent is given the option of supplementing the student’s program with carefully administered physical aversives