Autism Support in the Phoenix Area


Ted Simons: Coming up next on Arizona Horizon. Rose Mofford, Arizona first female governor, passed away. And why the phoenix area is being described as autism-friendly. Those stories next on Arizona Horizon.
Announcer: Arizona Horizon is made possible by the contributions from the members of the PBS, thank you.
Ted Simons: good evening and welcome to Arizona Horizon. I am Ted Simmons. Rose Mofford passed away at a hospice in phoenix today. She ascends today the floor after governor Evan Mecham was impeached. She played professional softball before getting elected. As Secretary of State, Mofford was next in line when Mecham was impeached. A difficult time for Arizona and a difficult time for Mofford.
Rose Mofford: Being sworn in as governor was the toughest thing that happened. Putting my hand on the bible and seeing someone else hurt. The state was hurt and the family of Governor Mecham was hurt and governor Mecham and I were friend and continue to be friends.
Ted Simons: Rose Mofford retired after 51 years of working in state government. She was known as a friendly woman with a trademarked beehive hairdo which she says was a French role. Here now to talk about Governor Mofford and her role in history is Athia Hardt. Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services, who covered Mofford's years as governor and secretary of state is here who covered the years as governor and secretary of state. Who was Rose Mofford?
Athis Hardt: She was a dedicated Arizonan. She grew up in Globe. She had a rolodex that was envied by everyone. Every person she had their children's' names. She cared about the state and as a result of caring about the state and being grounded in rural roots she worked well with people across the board. It didn't matter whether they were republicans or democrats. She cared about getting things done. She liked people. She really liked people.
Ted Simons: She definitely seemed like she liked people. Did she like working with lawmaker?
Howard Fischer: I think she recognized it as, if you want to call it, a necessary evil. This is a woman who didn't need the rolodex. She would go up to someone she didn't see in years and ask how are you children. She had that memory that endeared her to people because she cared about people. I watched her work with a room. There were no strangers to this woman. She would go up to people and introduce herself.
Ted Simons: As someone to work for, tough task master? It sounded like when she wanted something done she expected it to be done.
Athis Hardt: Sure. If and you made her happy you were in the will and if not, you were out of the will. Mother Mofford is what she called herself. She mothered her staff to some extent but she expected you to do what our goals were honestly we were in a time where it was unusual we had nothing in the ninth floor office. The Mecham folks moved out and took everything with them we were building from the moment going very fast from the moment we got there and she was leading us.
Howard Fischer: One of the important things she did do she knew what she knew and also knew what she didn't know. She surrounded herself with good people. She understood I need chief of staff. I need aids. I need press people who understand what they are doing because she said ultimately I make the policy decisions. But I don't know every intricacy. She knew the details and surrounded herself with good people which generally led to good decisions.
Ted Simons: Was she an effective governor?
Athis Hardt: She was an effective governor in that she came in in a very troubled time, she brought calm to the state, she brought reason to the process. She did surround herself with really good people. Her chief of staff was Andy. She brought in very confidant folks. She worked as I said with people across the political spectrum. So, yeah, I think she was a very good governor. I think she was the only person who could have come in and calmed the state at that time.
Ted Simons: I know a lot of folks were not here in the late 's describes the political atmosphere surrounding Evan Mecham.
Howard Fischer: We had many pleasant years under Bruce Babot. There were coalitions that were built. Evan was a one-term lawmaker. He ran a little paper in Glendale and beat out the house majority leader. He immediately went in annoying people with doing things. Some had to do with resend the holiday from Martin Luther King. Some had to do with statements he made. He defended the use of the word pickaninny which didn't help on the eve of Martin Luther King. He had loaned state money for his business and that got him in trouble. He was impeached.
Ted Simons: recall effort was bubbling.
Howard Fischer: He was impeached. House voted to impeach and senate voted to convict. He had hearings at the capitol in terms of who was lying and who was doing what and testimony by people.
Ted Simons: And through this all Rose Mofford was watching, waiting, worrying? What was she doing?
Athis Hardt: No. So what happened when the house voted the bill of impeachment that triggered the hearings in the senate. We were all very aware that that was going on. We were also very focused on the state and getting things back to normal. To be honest with you, I think we felt, although I saw rose saying she was friends with Mecham and everyone so she was. But we were all feeling like we were liberating the state a little. So there was a -- we were cut a little bit of a honeymoon for a while. There was camaraderie for a while. She was, you know -- she was aware. We were all aware but she didn't let the weigh her down.
Howard Fischer: The closest comparison is what happened between Dick Nickson and him being forced out after the bill of impeachment and Gerald Ford coming in and ford said our long national nightmare is over and a lot of people from Arizona who went let's put this behind us.
Ted Simons: Did she enjoy being governor?
Athis Hardt: Oh, yes, she loved it.
Ted Simons: why didn't she run for re-election?
Athis Hardt: I think she felt she had done what she had set out to do and it was time to give the reins to someone else. We had a period where we were focused on getting things back into a calm state. I have to tell you that the media didn't particularly love we were not making front page headlines by saying terrible things every day like Mecham did. But it was a time when we were very focused on getting the state back into a running order and I think when she had served her term she felt like she had done that.
Ted Simons: From the reporter standpoint, did she seem comfortable in the job?
Howard Fischer: In general, and occasionally we in the media have specific questions and sometimes the details would escape her, I think she didn't -- she expected us to treat her as governor as we did as secretary of state which is largely a ceremonial position. Tell us about your children and grandchildren kind of thing whereas, as governor she wrestled a little and you probably saw this at being -- you can't question me on that this is my budget proposal and what do you mean I can't do that? Why are you asking me why I would do that? It was a little tricky there. Again, we all suffered through the Mecham administration. He was a gift to journalism. But to a certain extent, this governor did also. She did the same thing to Larry Lopez at ap.
Ted Simons: Last question before we get you out of here.
Athis Hardt: I can't argue about that one.
Ted Simons: The legacy. What is Rose Mofford's legacy?
Athis Hardt: Well she has a lot of legacy, I think part of it is in what we have been talking about. The sort of great job she did at turning the state around in a very short period of time. But also you can't forget the cactus league. The cactus league was in trouble and they were taking it on. She kept them here. It was really Rose Mofford.
Ted Simons: The legacy of Rose Mofford?
Howard Fischer: I think it augers what Athia is saying. She came in and said let's go back to working together. It took a while. The budget, for example, took a full half year in one of her years. But she said we will have to work together and it will not be like Mecham.
Athis Hardt: And she is the 1st woman governor. Don't forget that.
Ted Simons: We can't forget that. We mention it every time. Good to have you both here. Thank you so much for joining us.
Ted Simons: Two recent PBS Newshour segments dealt with treating Tim including one report titled "How Phoenix Became the Most Autism Friendly City in the World.".
Reporter: His name is Matt Reznick and without knowing it, he has helped change the face of autism in his hometown, Phoenix, Arizona and not because he produces a line of baked goods- smile biscotti- which are for sale all over the city even here at peace coffee at Phoenix International Airport. Matt is literally the face of smile biscotti where the ads mention he has autism.
Ted Simons: And joining us now with more on how phoenix has become autism-friendly is Caren Zuker, a NewsHour producer and New York times best-selling co-author of "In a Different Key--the Story of Autism," and Denise Resnik, founder, president and CEO of First Place AZ and co-founder of the southwest autism research and resource center. Good to have you both here. Thanks for joining us. Define quickly what is autism?
Caren Zuker: It is a huge spectrum ranging from someone who could be very disabled and unable to speak and care for themselves to someone who is independent but disabled by social skills and everything in between. It is something that is diagnosed behaviorally. You cannot name one thing for it.
Ted Simons: Is it a diagnoses of omission?
Denise Resnik: We know the incident has risen dramatically. When our son Matthew was diagnosed 23 years ago, the incident was one in 2,500 and now today it is one in 68 children being diagnosed and one in 64 in Arizona.
Ted Simons: Do we know why?
Denise Resnik: We believe there is greater awareness and resources like the research center and others that boosted the awareness and parents are taking their kids to the pediatrician sooner.
Caren Zuker: And there are fantastic services here. People come here for the services.
Ted Simons: Talk about the services and what makes phoenix special in terms of autism.
Caren Zuker: I have been covering autism for years and there is nothing like what exists in this city. From what Denise's foundation and organization created to first place of the future to the community involvement and employers and employees that take people with autism. It is extraordinary team effort by the city. Not just by individuals.
Ted Simons: Has this extraordinary effort always been here? Has it been growing?
Denise Resnik: It has been growing through public, private and charitable organizations and a greater awareness and opportunity in this state to do things differently and be more innovative and create programs for this vast spectrum we have.
Ted Simons: First Place Phoenix. I noticed that was a special effort.
Denise Resnik: It is a sister non-profit to that we created a few years ago. The mission is to create more residential and community options for people with autism and special abilities. The idea is they should be as bountiful as they for everybody else. Not every with autism and special needs sits in group homes.
Caren Zuker: It is also for adults. There is nothing like what first place is doing in the country.
Denise Resnik: It is about adults, being part of the community, having jobs and being involved in recreational and having friends and continuing education and health care and everything we want as people without autism.
Ted Simons: I think the idea of dealing with adults. Everyone thinks of autism and thinks of the autistic child, raising the child. These children become adults. Talk about the challenges.
Caren Zuker: They are not as cute anymore. People need to see them out in the community to understand them and not be afraid. The thing about First Place is they are taking people out to the community, they are educating businesses to understand the adult so that society gets more accustomed to them.
Denise Resnik: It is more complex as our kids becomes adults. And we are excited in this community to have collaborations and partnerships like with cox communication is our exclusive telecom provider and creating smart homes and technology that will help individuals live more independently.
Ted Simons: We are talking about everything from being more professionally responsible to being on time dressing correctly and understanding the world. Correct?
Caren Zuker: Exactly. And also for those who can't do all of that to have the support of the community and that it is okay if someone can't speak. That doesn't mean they don't have something to say or shouldn't be part of the community.
Ted Simons: When you see what is happening in Phoenix and you report from other areas why are they not doing this as well? What is happening here that is not happening there?
Caren Zuker: There is an awareness. Denise and Spark have spent years doing that in this state. People know about it. We are at the next step and adults are so underserved this is where we need to be now. My son, when I reported on this story, I was so thrilled by what they were doing. He is 22 years old and coming to their pilot program. The First Place transition program.
Ted Simons: That is good quality when someone from the other side of the country says I want my kid to go there.
Denise Resnik: There is a lot of trust and a culture that embraced people with autism and other special abilities and more opportunities to succeed here and greater hope here.
Ted Simons: Talk about the other opportunities to succeed.
Denise Resnik: There are employment opportunities. Employers welcoming people with autism and other special needs and recognizing they can be productive, contributing members of society and they are. Our son has limited speech and limited social abilities but he has a home enterprise that is engaging others with autism and the Smile Biscotti business is supporting six people with autism. And Smile stands for "Supporting Matts Independent Living Enterprise".
Ted Simons: And last question for you. Over the years, I would imagine we have learned so much about autism as time goes on. When you look back, has the idea of autism, how do we deal with autism? How to raise a child with autism? Have these things changed?
Caren Zuker: Absolutely. My coworker and I did a book on autism and the way things used to be our children wasn't educated. It was the law to not let them be in school because they were too difficult. Mothers were blamed. Children were institutionalized for life. There were no adults because they were in institutions. We have thrown and -- grown and now the future is adults. We started to figure it out with children and are doing a pretty good job but have a long way to go.
Ted Simons: It sounds like a very good job is going done on a variety of levels. Good to you both here. Thank you so much for joining us.
Caren Zuker: Thanks for having us.
Ted Simons: Finally, tonight, an Arizona Horizon report on Rose Mofford who died today at the age of.
Reporter: Rose Mofford was Arizona's the governor. A democrat who served from 1988-1990
Rose Mofford: The toughest thing ever was going in and being sworn in as governor. That was the toughest thing that happened in my life.
I Rose Mofford do solemnly swear --
Rose Mofford: Putting my hand on the bible and seeing that somebody else was hurt. I just don't like to see people hurt. The state was hurt at that time, the family of Governor Mecham was hurt and Governor Mecham and were friends and continue to be friends.
Rose Mofford: In 1988, Secretary of State Rose Mofford was elevated to the office of governor when Governor Evan Mecham was impeached. Her task waters clear.
Rose Mofford: Calming the waters and bringing back the public trust.
[applause]
Rose Mofford: Things were in pretty bad shape. Low morale, the governor had no sense of direction and then I was sitting in the governor's chair.
Polly Rosenbaum: Rose, if any person ever stepped into a hornet's mess, she did. There was bad feelings, hatred, rancor, distrust. Everybody was mad at everybody else and there was still some people who said no woman has to be a governor. This isn't a woman's place. There were a few die hards like that.
Reporter: Mofford was Arizona's first female governor and the first to be secretary of the state.
Rose Mofford: I didn't find that I was mistreated in anyway but women are getting more recognition today and are coming to the front end and higher positions. I feel as governor, I didn't appoint people because they were women. I appointed them. I would say 49% of 1,700 appointments I made during my administration were women but they were the most qualified for the job.
Reporter: During her administration, Mofford fought for legislation supporting education and mental health care. When bad weather hit, she opened national guard armories to the homeless.
Rose Mofford: My most important contribution to the state of Arizona was my interest and love of the people.
Reporter: During years in state government, Mofford made a career out of helping people and as governor she was no different.
Rose Mofford: People called and asked would you give a speech or come to the supporting events or my son is going to become an eagle scout, would you be there? I tried to crowd it in. I would start early in the morning and go home at midnight many days.
Reporter: Mofford enjoyed getting out and rubbing elbows and was a governor who thrived on informality and fun.
Rose Mofford: People like to see you out there. They like to see you are a human being.
Polly Rosenbaum: The press loved her hairdo because they can poke shots at that all the time. But she doesn't take offense easily. She laughs.
Rose Mofford: That doesn't bother me. Vincent and I are friends with the cartoons me made of me and my hairdo. That is true but the trouble is the press doesn't know. They call it a beehive but it isn't. It is a French roll. It doesn't affect me as far as the joke. I think I have a nice head of hair and wished I had this when I was in school.
Reporter: Mofford will be remembered as a peacemaker who brought calm to a state of confusion. A governor's whose gift to Arizona was a very special rose.
Ted Simons: Again, governor Rose Mofford dead at the age of. Friday on Arizona Horizon, we will have more on Rose Mofford serving as governor. That is it for now. I am Ted Simons. Thank you for joining us. You have a great evening.

Two recent PBS NewsHour segments dealt with treatment for autism in the Phoenix area, including one segment titled “How Phoenix became the most autism friendly city in the world.” Caren Zuker, a NewsHour producer and New York Times best-selling co-author of “In A Different Key–The Story of Autism,” will talk about the segments and autism treatment in the Valley along with Denise Resnik, founder, president and CEO of First Place AZ and co-founder of the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center.

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Also in this episode:

Governor Rose Mofford Dies

In this segment:

Caren Zuker, a NewsHour producer and New York Times best-selling co-author of "In A Different Key--The Story of Autism"

Denise Resnik, founder, president and CEO of First Place AZ and co-founder of the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center

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