For most of her life, Diane Brunette didn't know she had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD as it is more commonly known.
She had problems focusing in school and only realized later in life that she succeeded more in a structured environment.
During a class at teachers college 15 years ago about learning disabilities, Brunette watched a Quebec film about ADHD.
“I was totally shocked to see people having the same issues as me,” she said.
Her professor focused on the negative aspects of the psychiatric disorder, but she was determined to learn more, and did her own research.
Armed with the knowledge, Brunette set about organizing her life in a way that made it easier to achieve her goals, despite the challenges of ADHD.
“If I don't do things sequentially, I'll never get anything done,” she said.
Brunette taught at the elementary level for seven years, but at her daughter's insistence, decided to focus her energy on helping others with ADHD, using the skills she developed to help herself to assist others.
Last October, she opened the ADHD Learning Centre with help from the Learning Initiative, a local organization that helps new entrepreneurs get started.
She set up her office at the Forge, a co-working space at 176 Larch Street, and offers coaching and counselling services for people with ADHD.
To her knowledge, she said, there is nothing else similar in Northern Ontario.
“People ... have a lot of misconceptions (about ADHD),” Brunette said. “All the focus is on the negative traits. Nobody looks at the positive traits. Most entrepreneurs have ADHD. People with ADHD don't just settle.”
ADHD is usually characterized by inattention, high energy or impulsive behaviour.
But Brunette said the characteristics that define ADHD can be positive — if they are channelled in the right direction.
She said people with ADHD, for example, are very attentive when a topic interests them. But forcing them to focus on other subjects can cause them simply to tune out.
“People have different issues,” Brunette said. “My issue is paperwork. Paperwork tends to overwhelm me so I've had to learn what to do not to let it overwhelm me.”
Through coaching, Brunette helps her clients develop similar strategies for own ADHD-related issues.
“I believe everybody has the answer to their own problems,” she said.
While her main focus is on coaching, Brunette is also qualified as a counsellor, and helps clients get over negative issues that may affect their wellbeing.
Her hope is for Sudbury to become a more ADHD friendly community, and for her centre to be a resource for anyone with ADHD looking to better their lives.
For more information about the ADHD Learning Centre, visit adhdlearningcentre.com.