When she was 5 years old Anna Redgrave's parents were told she would never achieve success. In her first year at university she failed three papers.
But then, Ms Redgrave began to learn about a condition called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) - first hearing about the disorder during a psychology lecture.
"As (the lecturer spoke) I just thought oh, that describes me. I guess I felt a little excited. I always knew I was different.
"I finally worked out that this square peg actually had its very own square hole," the 36-year-old said.
Last week, Ms Redgrave graduated with a master of counselling (hons) from the University of Auckland's faculty of education and social work with first-class honours.
She was drawn to study after many years working in the information and communications technology industry.
She said getting the masters degree was a thrill and a relief. "It was exhausting work - especially with ADHD."
Symptoms of ADHD include inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity, which occur in varying levels of severity dependent on the person. Ms Redgrave chose not to medicate her disorder, which would help her focus on study.
"Every year my grades got a little better as I learned strategies to cope with ADHD, and how to study. I also have an amazing and supportive husband who taught me a few study tricks. By the time I graduated I received first-class honours. That was awesome, absolutely awesome."
Ms Redgrave, from Mt Eden, now works as a counsellor, with her own practice focusing on three areas including issues with invisible diagnosis such as ADHD, individuals experiencing workplace problems, and working with survivors of trauma.
"As a counsellor I work with both adolescents and adults. For clients with ADHD, recognition of an adult diagnosis is very recent and it presents quite differently than in children.
"It is an area of neurological difference that has received very little focus from research and supportive services."
She also helps facilitate Facebook groups on behalf of the NZ ADHD Association. In 10 years she hopes to be a public speaker.
In her past career she attended speeches by Bryce Courtenay and Sir Edmund Hillary among others that inspired her to make changes to her career and set upon the direction she is now following.
"I would like to inspire others to embrace their difference, not only look at the negatives, but seek out how they might be turned into positives," she said.
In the meantime she may go on to study clinical psychology.
What is it
•Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a behavioural condition - it doesn't mean your child is just being naughty.
•It affects between 2 and 5 per cent of kids.
•ADHD was first described about 100 years ago but is no more prevalent now, just better recognised.
•Signs in children can include overactivity and inattention.
•If you think your child might have ADHD, talk to your GP or other health professional.