On October 26, 2013, I gave the closing keynote speech at the 13th Annual International Conference on Early Childhood Education held at the Monterrey Theater in Monterrey, Mexico, sponsored by CENDI (Centros de Desarrollo Infantil del Frente Popular ”Tierra y Libertad”), a coalition of exemplary early childhood education centers in the Monterrey metropolitan area. This was my fifth time attending and speaking at the convention, and each time has been a memorable experience. The speakers at the conference came from over 25 countries including Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Russia, Finland, and Cuba. Speakers included dyslexia and reading expert Dr. Kenneth Pugh of the Haskins Laboratory at Yale University, Dr. Mary C. Young, senior advisor at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, and Dr. Adele Diamond, Professor of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia.
The title of my keynote was: ”Neurodiversity and Young Children with Special Needs: Identifying and Nourishing the Most Delicate Flowers in the Field” (to download a copy of an article based on my keynote, click here; to download the English handouts for the keynote, click here; to download the Spanish handouts for the keynote, click here). I introduced the concept of neurodiversity, the importance of early detection and intervention for children with special needs (autism, dyslexia, ADHD, intellectual disabilities, and emotional and behavioral disorders), and the use of specific ”positive niche construction” strategies based on a student’s strengths rather than disabilities. I want to thank Director of CENDI, Dra. C. Maria Guadalupe Rodriguez Martinez, Senator Alberto Anaya Gutierrez, Bernardo Aguilar, and so many other people at CENDI who made my trip to Monterrey such a wonderful experience!