At age 13, Dafne Almazán became the youngest psychologist in the world. Today, at 17, she is the youngest Mexican to study a postgraduate program at Harvard University and the first Mexican under the age of 18 to study a masters at said university in 100 years.
The young Mexican, who will now study a Masters degree in mathematics instruction, is a gifted girl. At the age of 10, she graduated from high school, and at 13, she obtained her bachelors degree in psychology.
Dafne is one of nearly 1 million children in Mexico who have this type of talent. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a gifted person has an IQ of more than 130.
“They are children just like any other, only with an IQ that is way higher than for the rest of the population,” stated doctor Asdrúbal Almazán, director of the CEDAT foundation, which provides attention to gifted students, and father of Dafne.
However, Dafne considers that “gifted children in Mexico are often stereotyped, misdiagnosed, and poorly understood.”
The young psychologist claims people usually assume that gifted children spend most of their time indoors or that they are a copy of Einstein. “As a child I studied, but I also played often; I learned to play musical instruments and walked my dogs,” she stated.
Dafne explained that many children are misdiagnosed with an Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) when in fact, they are only more intelligent than the average person.
According to data from the CEDAT, around 93% of gifted children are misdiagnosed with ADHD, which often causes them to lose their abilities. Luckily for Dafne, her brothers were also gifted children.
In fact, her older brother Andrew helped create the CEDAT institute, a place in which a special education model, designed by Andrew himself, is applied with gifted children.
The model is called Noumenic Methodology and it consists of keeping gifted children in a childhood environment while potentializing their intellect with more advanced teachings.
Said methodology establishes that gifted children must be taught by professional psychologists with the same condition, since they are best equipped to attend their needs and follow their development closely, which does not happen in regular schools.
More than 300 children currently attend the CEDAT, though the institute has treated and taught more than 4,000 children.
In order to identify this type of children, Andrew Almazán has come up with a psychological profile which describes specific traits such as hyperactivity, rapid learning, distraction, and using words that do not correspond with their age.
“What’s important,” said Asdrúbal, “is that we detect these children on time and guide them properly so that their abilities are not lost.”
For the time being, Dafne is making her family proud, and she hopes to continue growing professionally “in order to help children so that they realize just how much they can accomplish.”