At this point we were in the school's parking lot, and his morning was restored to its usual routine. This insistence upon sameness also drives children to throw tantrums if schedules suddenly change or if someone intrudes upon their daily schedules. Interestingly, this insistence upon sameness has been recognized in current ADHD research. And this insistence is also linked to tantrums. A recent HealthWatch article states, As ADHD children grow and develop, parents discover that these children have a very difficult time adapting to even minor changes in routines, such as getting up in the morning, putting on shoes, eating new foods, or going to bed. Any shift in a situation can precipitate a strong and noisy response. It's always the same battles for about a month into the new school year--getting him up, getting him dressed, getting him to school on time. But there was no dress. The prop guy had to sneak up and put the dress there, in the middle of the scene. He altered the viewing experience. During the interval, people weren't talking about the play, they were talking about the prop guy. A nunchi ninja watches a room the way a theatergoer watches a play. Everyone in the room matters and affects the room's climate, whether they're the life of the party or the wallflower, the host or the help. The room's story is not static. Your nunchi should not be static either. Stay aware of plot twists. Let's say you meet someone at a party--Flavio, a charming and flirtatious man who introduces himself as a human rights lawyer. As I was returning a rented car at the San Francisco airport, I was greeted by a short Hispanic man waiting to check my car in. In a rush, I exited the auto and hurriedly headed toward the trunk to grab my suitcase. As I handed the attendant my keys, he asked me, You liked the car, sir?

Yes, it was fine. That's good! I'm glad you liked it. Suddenly I realized that this fellow, Manuel, was not just offering me a canned company spiel. He was speaking from his heart, making contact; I thanked him for his service, and started toward the shuttle bus. You come back again, he called to me. After three years, you'd think I'd be used to the arguments or you'd think he would have adapted. Clearly, any unexpected change generates undue anxiety and explosive responses in ADHD children--a response identical to children with autistic spectrum disorders. Another cause for tantrums addressed in autistic research is environmentally based. As we explained earlier in the article, researchers in autism have long noted that autistic children are highly sensitive to the sensory experiences of their environment--especially with regard to auditory and tactile stimulation. Large gatherings and noisy surroundings make it difficult for the autistic child to filter all of the stimuli. Thus they become overwhelmed and frustrated. For instance, Temple Grandin describes her experiences at home when her family would visit: When I was a child, large noisy gatherings of relatives were overwhelming, and I would just lose control and throw temper tantrums. Likewise, she notes that if her classroom had been what we regard as normal today, she would have been completely lost: I would have drowned in a cacophony of confusion if I had been in an open classroom with thirty students doing ten different things. Needless to say, such confusion would easily lead to a tantrum in a child. Her response when she was young was the typical response for autistic and ADHD children worldwide--to throw a tantrum. All signals so far suggest that Flavio is a person worth knowing, and you're intrigued. Half an hour into the chat, a woman marches up to Flavio and says, Why are you here? Stay away from me.

She leaves. Flavio says, Ignore her. She's crazy. This woman is a new player with new information, and you have to adapt. It is possible that the woman might indeed be crazy; You don't have enough information yet to decide. But that doesn't mean you should ignore what you saw, just because it contradicts your initial eye-assessment that Flavio was an OK person. We give you another nice car! Sitting on the bus, catching my breath and feeling more relaxed, I had a chance to reflect on the gift that Manuel had bestowed upon me. I felt nurtured and cared for. In a busy, impersonal, and often heartless environment, Manuel remembered that his job was about people more than cars. While some would consider his job the lowest on the company's totem pole, this fellow was acting with the grace, hospitality, and personal investment one would expect from the company president I wondered if the president of that company knows that Manuel is doing more to develop reliable business for them than any ad they could conjure. I surmised that Manuel's attitude is no accident. Positivity and job satisfaction filter down from the top of the organization. In an era when trickle-down economics has become a political catch-phrase, I wonder if we should pay even more careful attention to trickle-down service. I imagine that his company creates a nourishing environment for their employees, and this fellow was passing his sense of well-being along to me and other customers. Looking back on that day, I wish I had taken the time to shake Manuel's hand and tell him how much I appreciated his thoughtfulness. Like their autistic counterparts, ADHD children are hypersensitive to busy surroundings such as malls or noisy classrooms. Such environments overstimulate ADHD children and, according to a recent HealthWatch article, cause them to become distracted and react by pulling items off the shelves, hitting people, or spinning out of control into erratic, silly, or strange behavior. He gets all worked up when we're in crowded places.

He becomes angry and hard to control. I've walked out of stores and left full carts because he acts so bad. Finally, another common cause of tantrums is the hostile response to tactile stimulation. As we said earlier, both autism and ADHD researchers have recognized that children with these disorders are acutely sensitive to touch. Autistic children experience hypersensitivity to showers, hair washing, clothing, and hugging. Similarly, ADHD children are hypersensitive to tactile stimulation and often try to avoid uncomfortable sensations. This oversensitivity leads to aggressive responses such as pulling away abruptly from people and hitting others. There is no need to be rude to Flavio, but you will learn a lot more about him by not watching him too closely at this point. You should start to mingle, admire the articles and furnishings, and watch Flavio from the corner of your eye to see how he interacts with others. Give him some distance to allow him to show who he really is. Is he pouting and sulking at being ignored by you? Flirting with everyone else? Following you? Making frequent trips to the toilet and returning with a runny nose and bloodshot eyes? There is a very good chance that you will have all the information you need by the end of the evening. Nunchi might sound exhausting, but you know what's even more exhausting? Getting a restraining order. In my hurry, I caught up with my heart only in retrospect. If I had it to do over again, I would have told Manuel that he made my day. He taught me that no job is unimportant;

But I'm sure I will have the opportunity again. Perhaps not with Manuel, but there will be another hidden saint in some car lot or news stand. I won't miss out on a heart act to follow. Gibran declared: When you work you fulfil a part And in keeping yourself with labor And to love life through labor Such responses may appear to stem from anger but actually arise from a child's inability to endure overstimulation. WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? When the ADHD child seeks to avoid or reacts to protect himself from the sensory stimuli or changes in environment, he is labeled by the ADHD perspective as defiant, willful, and oppositional. This same child, when seen through the lens of autistic research, is understood as one who throws tantrums because of a biological deficit that impairs his ability to filter sensory stimuli and respond to changes in his social environment. Although recent research in both fields suggests that autistic spectrum disorders and ADHD fundamentally share the same origin, the same characteristics, and the same manifestations in communication, social interaction and behavior, the DSM-IV-TR and researchers still insist that these are totally distinct disorders. As a mother searching for diagnosis and treatment options, I wonder if the solution could be as simple as researchers from both sides stopping long enough to compare notes and collectively examine these disorders. Until then, we'll need to press forward in fully informing ourselves for the sake of our children. The Problem with Current Diagnostic Practices How ADHD Screening Tools Lend Themselves to Misdiagnosis What does it mean when we say two disorders are different? In other words, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You do not need to apologize for judging a person based on your nunchi. You do not need to prove to anyone that you have earned the right to decide for yourself whom you do and don't trust.