ADHD and Chess

Chess has been used as a brain-developing game for all ages. ADHD is a rampant issue especially in recent times and playing chess at an early age has been shown to help this issue greatly. ADHD is a cultural phenomenon and is apart of every parent of young kids today. Every overly hyper kid is a potentially has ADHD. This is a very real issue for some kids, and the diagnosis rate has increased greatly in the country, but playing chess at a young age has shown signs of helping. There is still a matter of debate whether ADHD is actually a harmful ‘disease’, or merely a natural process that occurs during the phases of maturity. According to a research by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of children with an ADHD diagnosis continues to increase, from 7.8% in 2003 to 9.5% in 2007 and to 11.0% in 2011. The high rate of ADHD diagnosis is a matter of concern for parents and teachers, as is the consumption of mind-altering prescription pills and drugs by children with not a full understanding of the consequences, in terms of health and behavioral changes. These concerns with the long-term effects of medication on children have led to a ‘no-drug’, therapy-based treatment for ADHD. An article published in The Nature Journal focused on “Brain activity in chess playing” and shed some light on how Chess activates critical areas of the brain involved in visual processing, memory, planning, and judgment, and how it activates both the left and the right hemisphere of the brain. If ADHD affects parts of the brain associated with thinking, paying attention, and planning, as the National Institute of Mental Health says it does, the effect of Chess on ADHD kids is a viable research option. Chess is a game that requires focus and is an easy game to focus on for along period of time for kids and adults alike. During a chess game, a large amount of concentration, attention, and focus is required to achieve victory. One small mistake may ruin the chances of success, so players have to be attentive and focused on their next move as well as that of their opponent. It’s clear how chess can help people suffering from ADHD; by playing the game, people are forced to pay attention or they lose. This instant punishment/reward pattern is a proven way to improve any skill, because players would rather pay attention and win, than lose their focus and lose the game.

I, like anyone, have struggled with a reading assignment that I was not interested in at all and continually got distracted, but this has not happened with a game of chess and I am often amazed at the amount of time I am able to focus on the board for. If only the focus I can bring to chess was the same I brought to my blogs.

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