Trying to meet the needs of her own children led Kim Lauger to study neurodevelopmental difficulties, the kind associated with autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and other complex syndromes and problems.

Lauger, a registered nurse living in Oro Valley, has one son who has struggled with ADHD and learning difficulties and another son with CHARGE Syndrome, a genetic disorder that creates developmental delays and other medical problems. Working with her own children brought Lauger to a life’s work of helping other parents in similar situations.

On Thursday, April 24, she will give a talk titled “A Neurodevelopmental Perspective of Sensory Processing and Autism Spectrum Disorders” at the Aldea Spiritual Community Center, 480 E. Ina Road. During the talk, which is free of charge and open to anyone, Lauger will seek to paint a broader picture of what such disorders can do to children and “what the world might be like for them.”

In recent years the number of children diagnosed with autism has increased, according to experts. In Arizona, according to data compiled by school districts, an estimated 2,288 children had autism in 2003, or one out of every 285 children. That, according to the group Fighting Autism, represents a steady increase in diagnoses from 1992 to 2003.

“The increase is there,” Lauger said, “because there are more children experiencing these symptoms.”

Autism is a complicated disorder involving three basic symptoms: impaired social interaction, difficulty with verbal and nonverbal communication and severely limited activities and interests. Symptoms usually appear by age 3 and may last throughout life.

And that’s why it can be so frustrating for parents dealing with a child suffering from an autism spectrum disorder or other complex neurological problem.

Lauger, who runs ND Solutions, is a certified practicioner of HANDLE (Holistic Approach to Neurodevelopmental and Learning Efficiency), which requires assessing the interdependent body-mind influences of people as they respond to an array of elements within their environment.

“Often you have to become an expert yourself,” Lauger said. “I came to this place in life because of my own children.”

The HANDLE approach, which Lauger uses, seeks to identify and treat the varied aspects of autism, which often manifest themselves in different ways depending on the sufferer.

“Their filters are not really working for them,” Lauger explained.

The symptoms are as varied as the people displaying them, Lauger added.

In her April 24 talk, which is sponsored by the private Vanguard Preparatory School, Lauger will try to give parents tips for dealing with autism and sensory processing disorders in their children. Above all else, she aims to impart tools with which parents can begin to understand the world from their children’s perspectives.

“It is really hard to say it’s just one thing,” Lauger said. “There is no magic answer.”

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