Jefri Samodal's behaviour in school was unacceptable. He would not stay still, he would not finish his work, and he did not seem to pay attention. It didn't take much for Samodal to get distracted, and his teachers hated that. What his teachers didn't know at the time was how hard it was for Samodal to know how disruptive he was being, but being physically unable to do anything about it.
“I had this voice inside of me that was constantly telling me: ‘You are messed up,' ‘Control yourself,' ‘Keep still,' and ‘Get a hold of yourself,'” Samodal explains.
Samodal was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). He was started on medication and things started to improve, or at least his behaviour started to be closer to what others were expecting of him.
“Every morning, I had to take a pill. It was disgusting. Like, trying to chew on a dry piece of wood, and I was the only one in my family with this so-called routine, which made things worse. I felt lonely, shame...the black sheep of the family,” Samodal says.
Samodal is among thousand of kids who, every day, are diagnosed with ADHD in the United States. Based on the last National Survey of Children's Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 9.4 percent of children age 2-17 in the U.S. have been diagnosed with ADHD.
For some, that diagnosis can be perceived as a curse, or as Clinical Social Worker and Therapist, Laura Lawson, explains, it can be an advantage in the right situations.
“When a hunting party went out to hunt for game, you would definitely want somebody who had ADHD at the head of the hunting party...Somebody with ADHD would hear a twig snap or whatever over in the forest,” Lawson explains.
According to Lawson, the person with ADHD would be able to notice very subtle movements in the background or sounds in the distance that would be lost to someone without the disorder. This difference in attention could mean the difference between returning home safe or being attacked by a wild animal.
“So, far from being a curse, being so attentive to everything around me could actually mean saving a life someday,” Samodal explains after hearing Lawson's explanation.
Samodal's ADHD is now under control. As he grows older, he has been able to stay more focused and avoid distractions. This has helped him in school and other social settings. However, Samodal said he doesn't want to change too much.
“I'm hyper, but most importantly, I'm happy.” Samodal said.