Pilar Gil Diaz, Psicologist, tell us her experience with the project in AFANDAH Alcorcón.
“The chess as a therapeutic tool for patients with ADHD”
Patients with ADHD suffer from hyperactivity, impulsiveness and attention difficulties due to an affectation in the prefrontal cortex, the corpus callous and the basal ganglia of our brain. Thus, patients often avoid tasks which require sustained mental effort such as: reading a book, studying a subject, watching movies, playing the same game for a while, talking to a friend and/or family member etc.
For all these reasons, it would be logical to assume that chess is a sport that they could dislike or avoid and that might not serve as a treatment for ADHD. However, in the Chess and ADHD workshops of the association AFANDAH (Alcorcón) we have been able to observe that the patients were able to play chess during 1 or even 2 hours without interruption, and after arriving home asked their parents to keep playing online. During the 2 years of workshops with chess, we were able to verify how the patients with ADHD both medicated and without medication (elementary and secondary students), benefited from chess by improving their decision-making, memorization, concentration, mathematical and spatial reasoning, dealing better with frustration and impulsiveness and building up their self-esteem and social skills.
Therefore, chess was not simply an after school activity for them, it was a therapeutic tool similar to the social skills workshops, the individual psychological treatment that they were all having etc. Through chess it is easier to deal with their daily life conflicts and organize better their academic and social activities which improves their self-esteem because they realize that for the first time they are able to get something done, expanding their circle of friends and improving their results in certain subjects such as mathematics etc.
Lastly it is important to highlight two main ideas, first it is important that the monitors of these workshops are trained in psycho-education in ADHD, as the team of Chess Academy; and second, chess cannot be seen only as an extracurricular activity, because it serves to improve the lives of the patients with ADHD.
Pilar Gil Díaz
Psychologist Therapy and emotion