Welcome to Disability Empowerment Now, Season two. I'm your Host, Keith Murfee- DeConcini. Today I'm talking to Tina Bauschatz, the founder and director of the Reading Therapy Center of Southern Arizona. Tina, welcome to the show.
Tina: Thank you so much. Wonderful to see you again, Keith.
Keith: Yes so we met each other several years ago when we were both part of the cohort of Arizona LEND.
Tina: That is absolutely correct. That was way back in 2016 or so. We are both part of the LEND Fellowship, the Leaders in Educational Neurodiversity and other related disabilities.
Keith: Uh, wow. How did they come up with that acronym? And you are right, it was 2016. I remembered well because that's the year I adopted Pepper, my Dalmation and Terrier mix so it collided nicely. So we got back in touch a few months ago through Linkedin, and you told me about your job and I asked you because I'm naive on your job title, what is a Reading Specialist, a Reading Therapist Specialist, and how did you get into that profession and founding the Reading Therapy Center of Southern Arizona?
Tina: Right. No, you asked a really good question back then. You asked me, you know, what is a reading specialist, I have never heard of it? And I'm so, you know, steeped in the profession that it hadn't occurred to me that someone who's not within, you know, the walls of my building or the walls of special education for grade school children, might not be aware of what that is.
And so I seized upon the opportunity to share that with you. I think it's worthwhile to learn about and to share. So thank you for having me on to do that.
Keith: No problem. So please tell us what a Reading Therapist or a Reading Specialist is. I'll get the term right before the interview is over.
Tina: You know, it doesn't matter to me that the terms are one and the same, to be honest with you. So a Reading Specialist is someone who specializes in reading. Reading isn't something that just happens naturally for everyone.
There are children who are not able to read very easily. Sometimes they have what are called phonological challenges or they're not able to match the letter with the letter, which is like a symbol, right? It's just some random curve or line with the sound that it represents. That can be extremely challenging for children.
For some children. For those kids, they need a special kind of instruction. We call it. If you wanna get all fancy, we call it the Orton Gillingham Methodology and so that means that children with severe reading challenges for whatever reason respond best to instruction that is phonics based.
It's systematic, and goes step by step. It's very explicit. There's no implicit kind of thing where you have a you know, in schools you'll see a classroom when the teacher has the word cat on the wall, and then they take out the C and they put in an M and now it's mat on the wall. And kids, most kids just pick it up implicitly like, ah, we're doing some rhyming.
This is easy. But then you have this small percentage who don't get it and so for them, the Orton Gillingham Method is important because it's very explicit. It explains exactly what every sound is, what it's doing, and when it's doing it, and why. Reading follows a very systematic structure. You know, there's six syllable types, there's 26 letters, There's way more than 26 sounds.
There's diagrams, there's, you know, I went to get my PhD in Reading and Dyslexia Specialization because it's so involved. So that's what a reading specialist is. It's someone who knows a whole lot about reading and how to teach it to children who otherwise can't learn it.
Keith: So, pardon my naivety, but what made you want to create and found the Reading Therapy Center of Southern Arizona. I am trying to figure out why that wasn't already created.
Tina: Oh, good question. So, one thing, the reason we call ourselves Reading Therapists as opposed to just a Reading Specialist, I wanna clarify this right away because you're bringing up some very good questions. Is that we don't work just with children who have minor phonological or phonemic awareness issues, though that is to say children who have say dyslexia, because it seemed to me, and I'll explain how I came to this, but it seemed to me that every child could learn to read if they were provided the right instruction.
And that correct instruction for the most part, appeared to be some combination of applied behavioral analysis or behavioral training, behavioral therapy, and the right dosage of Orton Gillingham Methodology, which was historically for children with, to teach children. Lemme say this, it was historically used for the instruction of children with dyslexia.
So you're combining. So I thought let's combine the dyslexia instruction with the ABA behavioral instruction for kiddos often on the spectrum and see what we can do to provide a program, a reading program that would address everyone that would help everyone. And I was able to do that rather successfully if I don't say so myself.
From that was born the Reading Therapy Center. So we do take and teach children who have more than just dyslexia. Of course we do the dyslexia thing, of course, but children who have selective mutism, who are non-verbal, who are using just a talk box, they have to learn how to read too, right?
We don't want them just, I mean, guess they could just learn how to push symbols. But knowing how to read opens other parts of your mind allows for deeper comprehension, right? So we want everyone to be able to read, and that includes those, those, my favorite kiddos who are the ones who have severe autism who are screaming or they're in other ways, you know, demonstrating that they have behavioral challenges and you have to figure out, or I have to figure out how can I reach this child? How can I connect with this child? How can I help this child learn what I need them to learn, but also love it? And so they do, They come in and they enjoy coming and they get from maybe not knowing how to speak at all to reading.
It's pretty cool.
Keith: What motivated that passion, that professional passion because I am trying to remember what you were studying in Arizona LEND. Arizona LEND, we are getting to later because that is where our history is but I always felt out of place in that cohort because I was not in the medical field studying medicine, so it had nothing to do at all with my disabilities. I wouldn't have felt out of place if I was studying to be a nurse, a medical assistant. And it is funny because a few years later I took this course in New York, in my second graduate school, pardon this tangent, but it will loop back I promise. I took a course on research methods and research methodology, and so much of what we studied a few years prior to that made so much more sense after taking that course. By just understanding the acronyms, the terms, why medical terms and research terms are the way they are. I wish looking back that I would have taken research methods somewhere, before I dive into Arizona LEND because understanding the reading and all of the medical jargon, even if I wasn't studying medicine, would have been so much more easy. So what motivated you to become a Reading Therapist, Reading Specialist?
Tina: Can I tell you a secret? Yeah.
Tina: Don't tell anyone.
Keith: Well it won’t be a secret once this episode airs, FYI.
Tina: It’s just you, me and the listeners. Cool. Cool. So I actually have learning disabilities.
I have special, specific learning, what would now be called specific learning disabilities in reading and math. So at the time when I was going through childhood this wasn't, learning disabilities wasn't really a thing, you know, ADHD wasn't really a thing. It wasn't well known. I remember my mom having books around the house that said, um, You Mean My Child's Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy, Understanding Attention Deficit Disorder, right?
And I was like, what on earth, Mom? It just wasn't, you know, well known then. However I grew up, and I make no, you know, secret of it, Keith, I grew up with a silver spoon in my mouth. Financially, emotionally, a whole different story. But financially, you know, we're working that out in therapy. But financially I grew up in Bel Air with all of the trimmings that come with that.
I did not know how to read. For the longest time I even went to college not really understanding how to write sentences, but I was pushed through and able to make it through because I had tutors at every stage. And I now realize as an adult, anyone can, I've, you know, and now I've, I've been in two PhD programs at this point.
I love writing. It's my favorite thing. I love reading. It's my favorite thing.
Keith: Oh, hold on. Yeah.
Tina: Now I didn't say I finished.
Keith: Oh, okay. I, I would, Wow. Okay.
Tina: Well, no, no, no. And I'll go back for that. I'll go back into that history for you, my friend. Yeah, but it requires a lot of writing, a lot of reading to be anywhere in these kinds of programs, these kinds of intensive academic programs.
I feel like if I could do it, knowing how far behind I was, having learning disabilities with the combination of ADHD and anxiety, I feel like anyone can do it if they have the right instruction and that instruction comes from the right tutors. So that's what the Reading Therapy Center is for.
It's to address those children who may not otherwise have the right instruction, the right or the right tutors.
Keith: So what were you studying at Arizona LEND?
Tina: I wasn't a doctor either, man. I wasn't in medicine. So a quick history on me, just to remind you. I grew up in LA and I did all my nerding out, all my academic nerding out, on the northeast, like Massachusetts. I went to Smith College and then I went for a post Baccalaureate at the University of Pennsylvania at UPenn.
That was, back when I thought I would be a Greek professor. I thought, I'm gonna be, Oh, you'll love this. I'm gonna be a professor of Greek Theater. Ancient Greek Theater. So you had to know ancient Greek and Latin, and then you had to learn these research languages like French and German.
Keith: My Dad would have loved to adopt you.
Tina: It turns out that it’s really only fun as a hobby.
Keith: No kidding.
Tina: So when I got to Duke. Oh my God. The minutiae that you have to learn when you're in a PhD program for that kind of thing is just mind blowing. I couldn't have cared less. So I was there, I was at Duke University translating in the library carols like 10 hours a day. Lonely, bored. It was terrible. So, uh, I got my MRS and that's the first time I left a PhD program. I got my MRS and I got married and we moved to Tucson, this tiny, tiny little town that I'd never heard of before in my entire life.
Keith: Not a lot of people have.
I mean, now that's not true, but back then yeah. Yeah.
Tina: Yeah, yeah, people thought I was running from the law kind of thing. Like, why are you going there?
Keith: Wow. Ok.
TIna: You grew up around here, so it's different for you. I love it now. I mean, I've been here since ‘07, but yeah, at LEND I wasn't doing medicine either.
I was in my second PhD program this time, I was a fellow. I earned a fellowship for the PhD program at the U of A for basically their Special Education Department, they have a fancy name for it. It's like Disability and Psychoeducational Studies. I just think it's easier to say SPED, Special Education.
So there I was majoring, effectively majoring in dyslexia and minoring in autism and my advisor, my PhD advisor at the time, said, you know, Tina, the most interesting discoveries come when two fields are combined that no one has combined before and so that was always kind of stirring in my head until I, I figured out, oh, to teach all kids how to read, we combined, you know, the autism field and the dyslexia field.
Keith: Yeah. Yeah and so you are in the PhD program and you are majoring in Dyslexia and minoring in autism. Those are two disabilities out of, shoot, I don’t know and this is my job but I mean, out of thousands if not tens of thousands, I should look that up sometime. But why did you choose those two in particular?
Tina: Oh, good question. So definitely dyslexia was an easy choice. When I left Duke, I spent about a year in Delaware.
I was just, you know, I was like a little lost. You know, you're like, in your twenties, you think you're gonna do something and then you realize, I really don't wanna do that thing. What do I do now? So I signed up for this year-long, super intensive training course just cuz it was free in Delaware, in Wellington.
It turned out to be. Free. Yeah. Quote unquote. That course turned out to be the bedrock, uh, foundation for everything I would do after. Um, or it was an Orton Gillingham Methodology course where you got to work with real students who had severe dyslexia and you had to do a ton of coursework and a ton of writing.
Then later I realized oh my God, I just, that's gonna be the thing that propels me forward for the rest of my career and I was able to work, I think having learning disabilities made it easier for me to connect with other kids who have learning disabilities. I also kind of like that I'm female and African American, and so then I'm able to connect with children who are also female, maybe not feeling themselves.
Maybe underprivileged or of an ethnic background. and I can say, Hey girl, I did this and lemme show you where I used to be and now here's where I am. And then you get this little spark in their eye. Like, oh, it's like the little Michelle Obama spark. Like, oh, someone believes in me and it kind of looks like me.
Okay. Okay. Representation matters.
Keith: Absolutely. So the course was really the foundation then, did it automatically lead into the motivation of founding and directing the REading Therapy Center of Southern Arizona, or were there other st4eps along the way that encouraged that or was what you do now, did that get locked in to your psyche after that foundational course, or after LEND, or where there other hop, skips, and jumps along the way?
Tina: Great questions. So when we met at the LEND program, I was in the PhD program for dyslexia and minoring and autism, but I was also raising three children. And they were pretty young at that point. They were toddlers, but one of them had recently been diagnosed as having autism.
In fact, both of them, two of them, two of the three had autism. One was severe and more classic autism. So that's my Oliver Olibear. He wasn't responding, you know, you go goo goo gaga to a baby and the baby goes, Ahhh, and Oliver, he didn't do any of that.
Keith: Hold on. Uh, What is classic autism?
Tina: So, you know, autism's a spectrum as they say, right? So sometimes, and they say that, you know, when you, if you know one person with autism, you know, one person with autism, well, I don’t know about that.
When Oliver was first diagnosed, he had what I would consider classic traits of autistic behavior. So he wasn't talking, he wasn't responding to his name, he was staring at white walls for long periods of time, minutes and minutes and minutes and minutes and minutes.
He would spin in circles for no reason and stop and not let, not like maybe for the sensation of you know, for sensory, seeking behaviors perhaps. But otherwise, you know, atypical, real, atypical behaviors, very picky about his foods. Yeah, just almost, as though he didn't appreciate or notice anything that was going on around him.
And you know, when you have three toddlers in your house, there's always a lot going on. Kids are slamming into walls, they're banging pots and pans. They're taking off their clothes and running around trying to get the adults' attention. It's busy, it's fun and it's busy. But Oliver wouldn't notice any of it.
He'd just be in his own world staring away at some white wall. And so that was a big, you know, something that you would look at immediately if you're in the field and say, You know what? Those are some pretty big red flags of what maybe you're more classic autistic behaviors.
Keith: And so that’s Oliver. What about your other kid? Mm-hmm. That had autism. Do they differ and how so, or are they more similar?
Tina: No, they were super different. So different. Oscar sought out social interactions, but it was very clear he didn't know how to do so in a way that was socially appropriate or age appropriate.
So when he was like he got kicked outta kindergarten when he was five and, maybe even preschool too, but he would hide under tables and throw pencils at kids. He would be..
Keith: Oh, so like darts.
Tina: Darts, exactly. Sharpen the pencils with his tongue and just throw 'em. Yeah.
Keith: Too bad they don’t have those section things like enough darts.
Tina: Don't give them any ideas, man, it’s between us.
Yeah. So he was on the other end of the spectrum. Right. So whereas Oliver was very what might look like introverted Oscar was more what you might call extroverted. He would run to the bathroom in class. He would climb on top of the toilet seat and try to get onto the roof. You know, onto the ceiling.
He would sing loudly at all times. He would play this game. This is how he knew he wanted to interact with people, is he would play a game with his friends out, his friends, his peers outside on the playground, it would always be the exact same game and it was called Oscar Eats Everyone. And that just meant he ran around trying to chase people.
But that was all he knew, you know? So he was talking, he was walking, he was, you know, coordinated. So he didn't get any services until long after Oliver, Oliver was our, we had to, you have to triage, you know, you can't serve everybody all the time. You gotta triage your kids sometimes.
And so, yeah, but both have an autism diagnosis, so.
Keith: So okay, what is your other child?
Tina: The third one, Anna. She is unscathed. She is, we have a strong sort of family history of the females, having anxiety and high anxiety and learning disabilities and so far she only exhibits the anxiety piece. So no, absolutely no autistic traits whatsoever that I can see.
Keith: Wow. Well,
Tian: She has to take care of her brothers, you know, so that's a whole other issue, right, is the neurotypical child and how they have to balance sharing attention with their neurodiverse siblings.
Keith: How old are they now?
Tina: Oh, they're at a good age now. They can bathe themselves, get their own snacks.
It's great. They are 10, 12, and 13 between years.
Keith: Wow, great, fantastic ages, remember them so well in my own life, I bet you do too.
So that explains the PhD major and minor, and then that also explains how you came to Arizona LEND. How we met, and then did the program that you took at Duke, if I am recalling correctly, motivate you to the current position you have or did other steps along the way take?
Tina: Yeah, so the sort of trajectory was, Duke started there and that that didn't, just because I didn't finish that program, I doesn't mean it doesn't play.
I use those skills every single day, in order to understand language and to teach Morphology and Etymology and break down, you know, why a word like leisure, you know, is spelled the way it is. You have to have an understanding of the Morphology and Etymology of all these words. And that's where my training in classical languages comes into play every single day.
So that experience was not lost, so after Duke, I went to the Bedrock Foundation program and did the Orton Gillingham training for a year in Delaware and then we got married and drove to Arizona where I enrolled in Arizona LEND.
Keith: Why Arizona? Why from Delaware to Arizona?
Tina: I tried, Keith, I tried other places. So John, my, then my ex-husband, he, I met him at the Duke program, right? He finished the program. I did not, He was a few years ahead of me.
So when, when you're a professor, you don't, unless you're a real hotshot professor, you're only, you know, you get your choice of a few schools that will accept you and so we had to go where he, we chose to go where he got a job and so, it was either Tucson, Arizona, New Orleans right after, like on the heels of Hurricane Katrina.
Right? So imagine that wasn't even enough. We're like, Nope. Call us in a few years.
Or another city. The third one was Appleton. I think it's Appleton, Wisconsin or Appleton, Washington. I think it was Appleton, Wisconsin. Don't hold me to that. But that's some place called Appleton and I was like, oh my God. I don't know if any of these places, I guess, you know, close your eyes and touch a place on the map.
And so we ended up in Tucson.
Keith: Wow, okay, that’s random. And so trajectory wise, you landed here.
Tina: I had some really good experiences here, while I was in the master's program for, I forget what they call it now, Special Education and I was under the advising, of like the top Dyslexia Specialist in the country named Dr. Nancy Mather who just happened to work here at the U of A, so that was pretty cool.
While I was doing that, I got some really important training as the Special Education District Coordinator for a group of charter schools here in Tucson and one for some reason was in Phoenix as well. I got a lot of good training as the Director of the Special Needs Services Department at the JCC, the Tucson Jewish Community Center.
So you got to see, I got to see the breadth of the sort of lifespan of children with special needs from five years old to, I think our oldest was something like 22 at the time. He's now like 28, 29. I got to see the breadth of disabilities. It wasn't just autism. It wasn't just dyslexia, it was everything and all the comorbidities.
I got to see the parents and what their barriers were to getting services for their kids. I got to learn about the legal system, Developmental Division of Disabilities here, D D D and all techs. All of those things were super important and kind of making my way through all of this, all of these experiences, led me to the PhD program and the LEND Program.
Then I, full circle. I was in the LEND program. I don't know if you know this. I was in the LEND Program and about to start my dissertation in Special Education, and I just, it was time for divorce and I had to choose, like, those things are really stressful. You can't, so we had, I had to choose, do I finish this dissertation or do I get a divorce?
And, you know, divorce was calling. So I needed the divorce, I got the divorce. I left the program barely made it out of the LEND program, but after the divorce, I went back to teaching for a minute just regular old Special Education teaching and I only lasted about one semester because I kept seeing the, and this became the inspiration for the Reading Therapy Center.
I kept seeing child after child, middle school, high school. Whom I could, I looked at each one and said, I can teach you how to read, I can teach you to get to grade level, but I can't do it in this environment. I can't do it in like one class or two classes, a couple times a week and a small group with very little resources.
I was mostly asked to just push these kids along and that didn't feel good and it didn't seem to utilize my talents and it didn't seem to get the kids to where I knew they could be cuz they can do it, as I said, you just need the right instruction and you need the right instructor.
So then we opened the Reading Therapy Center and now so many of those same kids they go to school, they get the social piece at school, they get the exposure at school, and then they come to us two plus times per week to get that, intensive intervention that will bring them up to grade level or to their academic potential. So it’s very cool.
Keith: So, how long has the Reading therapy Center been around?
Tina: Oh my gosh. I never know how to answer that question. So like, I officially quit working as a teacher and everything in January of 2019 and so I said, all right, that's it. I'm doing this. I'm gonna be a tutor now and I would drive to these parents' houses and charge like $30 an hour, and I would go to different schools and say, Hi, my name's Tina, which can I work with some of your students for free, please?
You know? And they would let me. So at the Abbey School, they let me work with your kids.
It was wild. I was like, they're like you seem like, you know, you're doing sure. As long as the parents say it's okay, go for it and so I got a lot of practice and also realized there's a huge area of need that's not being met here in Tucson.
And I can service that. I can take these kiddos who other schools don't really know what to do with. They say, Well, I guess as long as you're able to sit in our classroom and cooperate and not throw fits, that'll be your education. And I say, no, no, we can do a little bit more than that. Um, and so I kept getting referrals.
People kept sending them to me. Kiddos who are harder and harder, more and more challenging are who have more and more challenges and then I would have to figure out how to work with these kids? And I was able to, I'll tell you the tipping point though was in 2020, you remember 2020. Something about a pandemic starting big.
Keith: Oh, it was lovely.
Tina: My favorite year of all time. That's where I really felt like things were moving forward quickly. I was spending eight hours, 10 hours a day from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM on the computer servicing student after student. Every student gets one hour. So back to back, to back, to back, to back, to back, to back to back seven days a week.
It was a tremendous amount of time. It was physically exhausting, but it was a pandemic. I didn't know. Right. I didn't know if we were, I thought the world was ending. I don't know. So I was just working, working, working, but in doing so, I logged thousands of hours with kids. So the patterns that you see, like the problem patterns became super clear and how to fix the problems became super clear.
So what normally would take a teacher, maybe two years to realize, oh yeah I've tried this method and this method is better than the other method I figured out in like four days because I could do it, I could practice that same sort of intervention or technique with students like with different students, you know, 20 over four days and 20 times over four days and realized, Oh, this one works, this method doesn't work as well.
Good. Done. So then I was able to really easily create programs based on that and then 2022, this year, this year, we hired, oh my gosh, we have a team of like 10 now. So, yeah, eight tutors and two admin. So it all, all happened rather quickly. So when did we start? I don't know. 2019 is officially it.
Keith: Wow. So that's very brand new, I refer to 2019 as the before times. Yeah. My dad copied a joke that said if COVID was a religion, we would be ultra-orthodox because we were very focused on staying safe and everyone should. So let's move back into how we met and the memories that we share from the Arizona LEND program.
Let's start with, are you in touch with any of our cohort?
Tina: Oh, yeah. Arizona LEND was a very special program, and I encourage, in fact, I've encouraged three of my team who are exceptional to apply in January, for the experience and part of that experience wasn't just academic.
It wasn't just the legal workings that we got to understand, but it was the comradery, right. I'm still in touch with, close touch with Eileen, our mentors, right? Eileen and Jennifer Casteix a Speech Language Pathologist at the U of A. We meet regularly for coffee and, you know, cocktails, things that depend on the time of day. No judgment.
Keith: No. Good point, Good point. I stand corrected.
Tina: Yeah, so Eileen and Jennifer Castex and Dr. Sidney Rice, those are some of the mentors that I have and I stay in close touch with them. Dr. Andrew Gardner now sends my clinic referrals from his clinic, which is wild.
Then as for friends, so Lauren, I'll be speaking, at the U of A on the topic of Dyslexia and Dysgraphia and writing interventions. I'll be speaking in her class. She's now a professor, associate professor. I'll be doing that in November.
Victoria, I have promised her that I will soon babysit her adorably squashy baby. Love that little kid. Emily Patch, oh, she has a new name. I am not very good at remembering women's newly married names, but Emily, formerly known as Patch, who's now, you remember Emily? She's in Yeah. She’s in Flagstaff now. I miss her every day but yeah, I stay in touch with her.
I don't stay in touch with Claire, though. I think about her often and our many conversations about just important stuff. Man, I miss all of that. Yeah. Yeah. How about you? Do you stay in touch with anybody from LEND?
Keith: Uh, LeAnn who I will actually be interviewing later this season on the CP course we co taught. You mention Elieen Mcgraph. She was my advisor as well and she approached me, at the beginning to teach the CP course class and I like to talk, that’s not a secret. When your voice comes in at age seven and you spend all of the previous years basically functional mute only due to learning an abbreviated version of ASL American Sign Language, you tend to, or at least I did, I take speaking extremely seriously, as everyone should because everyone has a voice whether or not they can articulate sound. SO Elieen was my advisor at the time and unfortunately we fell out of touch. But at the time she needed someone to teach the class on CP and she thought what better for the cohort than to have a member of the cohort their fellow student teach the class, and she said you can basically talk about whatever you want for three hours. Which sounded incredible, absolutely mind blowing incredible. I had a whole class for three hours. Except I could only talk about and relate to the Cerebral Palsy from a specific gender perspective and I knew there were others, other perspectives that were as important as mine, if not more so and luckily I had met LeAnn and we had become rather close due to the sharedness of out disability but the thing that really stood out to me is that, women with certain health challenges that men with disabilities have no idea about. Even though that did not come up in the class, I didn’t want the cohort to look at me and think that oh yeah, that’s Cerebral Palsy, because it’s not. It is one specific version of Cerebral Palsy but it is not the whole picture. Like you mentioned the adage that if you met one person with autism then you met one person with autism, and how by that in every case, in terms of living with Cerebral Palsy, I do abide by that in terms of my disability. And I knew LeAnn and I wanted to learn from her as much as I wanted to teach. Through that experience I got to know her sister Megan who just married her boyfriend and she has short term memory loss, and so it was a package deal to have three amazing people up in that classroom teaching that course, two of which had the disability being discussed, and all I had to do was give up half of the time that I could of used, but I felt very strongly about having not a counter balance to my experience but another angle another perspective that could relate to it in a completely different way than I could. Particularly for that cohort or for every cohort, past, present and future of Arizona LEND, or LEND in general. It is important to have as many diverse perspectives relating to complex disabilities and other neurological disabilities.
Long tangent, but didn’t want anyone to come away from that three hour lecture, which to be honest would be bad having me up there yapping away and have the misconception that they knew more than the tip of the iceberg of what Cerebral Palsy is by listening to a guy talk about it in a very, skewed is the wrong world, but a unique way that is not really as representative of all of the complexity both good and bad that Cerebral Palsy is and I mean having another gendered perspective up there was as important because even if women with disabilities didn't go through health problems that men with disabilities quite frankly have no idea about having another perspective of another person up there who happened to be another gender would have enhanced and did enhance the overall conversation and helped, and the term counterbalanced is really wrong in this, it’s not necessarily wrong, it's just not as clear as I want it to be, it was a counterbalance, you got to meet her sister who had a completely different disability but also how they interacted and how they related to each other. As much fun as that talking was, encouraging Dr.Elieen Mgraph to think about and ask LeAnn who is still to my knowledge either teachs or co teaches the CP class almost every year since then, is vastly more important than hearing me yap, or listening to myself yap.
Tina: I don’t think you should put yourself down, your opinion is just as valuable, but I also appreciate that you're willing to, that you were so conscientious about, making sure that all sides or these other sides were represented.
It’s the same for representation of gender, representation of race. It's not a one size fits all for facility as well, so I'm really glad that you're pointing that out and bringing it up.
Keith: And see that is at the heart of it what I wanted to avoid. It's the one size fits or modality or whatever, and it's not about putting myself down.It would've ironically been a lot more stressful for me to sort of summarize my entire life in the various points I wanted to hit and whatI wanted to cut out and really uber stress over that with twice the amount of time than having half of the amount of time, which I did, which is ironic, but again it was the fact that I didn't want to paint any disabilities, any condition with a broad broach and give that impression about Cerebral Palsy because it was too important. The three aspects of Arizona LEND beyond the comradery, which is incredible but the three experiences that I got to have that I would have probably not gotten to have had I not joined Arizona LEND, one, is
I led countless rotations at the Children's Clinic of Southern Arizona and I interviewed the current CEO Jared Perkins last Season who is a very dear friend of mine. Two going to see how disability is represented and handled in the Native American community on the reservation, which was so incredible. Even though that day I was sick as a dog with a bad cold but I loved every minute of it, and then co-teaching the CP class. And then the AUCD conference the association of University Centers on Disability, and then the Disability Policy Seminar also co hosted by AUCD as well and I got to know so many people through those, so the three turns into five experiences that I would have probably never discovered or partook in had I not been in Arizona LEND or a LEND program in general.
Tina: An important one. And I remember us both being super sick on that trip to Flagstaff to visit different tribes and learn about tribal populations and how they handle disabilities and how we can be advocates and allies.
I remember us both being incredibly sick. It was such a good experience.
Keith: So in wrapping up, there are questions I like to end on. Three questions. One, what are some action steps, some pointers that you can give any self advocate who may just be beginning their career in advocacy. That's the first question.
The second question rolls into the third because I like to assume that both people with disabilities and people who have yet to become aware that they do have disabilities are listening to this podcast, and so relating to the two groups out of this interview, what would you hope that listeners with disabilities would take away from this interview?
And what would you also hope that listeners who have yet to be, become aware that they have disabilities themselves take away from this interview?
Tina: Well, I'd hope that listeners who are listening and perhaps even those who don't realize that they have a disability yet, which is nothing to be not too shocking and nothing to be ashamed of course.
What I would hope that they would take away is that there's help. There's a lot of resources out here for you. I would like you to reach out to your local chapters for the International Dyslexia Association or the Autism Society. There's one here in Southern Arizona.
For both of those, you have, for parents I would like them to know that their child, no matter what their disability, no matter how severe or challenged their child may seem, their child can succeed in school in a very meaningful way. They can learn how to read, they can learn how to write, they need just the right instruction.
And the Reading Therapy Center is hopefully going to be a part of their journey. If we're not it, we're always here to be a well of knowledge to help guide parents through the maze of Special Needs and Special Education. For advocacy steps, same thing. Reach out to your local chapters for Dyslexia.
The Dyslexia Association. IDA is one of the, the biggest, and then the autism chapters because there's always, the more you learn about your specific resources in your specific area, the more you can do to advocate for others and for those within your family.
Keith: So, if listeners want to know more about the Reading Center? Reading Therapy Center of Southern Arizona or get in touch with you directly. How would they do that?
Tina: Oh gosh. I hope they will do that, if nothing else, we can tell you about our programs, we can help your child. If you're in another state, we can help you virtually and we can also advocate for you.
We show up to IEP meetings. We can collaborate with all the providers, we believe in interdisciplinary communication. We're here to help. You can find us on the web at www.readingtherapycenter.org or you can send us a phone call, shoot us a text at 5 2 0. 3, 4, 2, 6, 5, 3 0.
Keith: Tina, I want to thank you for getting back in touch with me and for agreeing to do this interview. I know I'm probably twisting your arm hard, but I hope this is only part one of a series of interviews we do together. You are a very passionate person and I remember our trips together with Shannon, another one of our cohort and I always learned so much from you and everyone in the cohort and I look very much forward to seeing you again in person soon. Stay safe my friend.
Tina: Thank you so much, Keith. It's been an absolute pleasure and an honor, and I'll hit you up for coffee soon.
Keith: You have been listening to Disability Empowerment Now. I would like to thank my guest today and you, the listener. More information about the podcast can be found on visit on disabilityempowermentnow.com. The podcast is available wherever you listen to podcasts or on the official website. This episode of Disability Empowerment Now is copyrighted 2022. .