Boy playing chess in cap and gown

Strengthen Your ADHD/Autism Brain. Play Chess.

Reasoning and logic aren’t typical strengths for people with ADHD or on the Autism Spectrum. They need to catch up with their non-disabled peers. Playing chess is a great way to do it. Fun too!

The United States ranks 24th of 29 developed countries in critical thinking. Problem-solving is a particular concern. This is a result of deficiencies in working memory and recall. These are especially a challenge for students with ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Executive Functioning

Executive functioning disorder (EFD) is common among people with ADHD and ASD. They have trouble controlling impulses and emotions and experience challenges balancing tasks. EFD often impedes the ability to plan and results in difficulty putting together specific actions to form long-term goals.

Brain development can result in weaknesses in executive functioning. Playing chess can help.

  • Engage visual information.
  • Use “both sides” of the brain.
  • Boost math and reading skills.
  • Improves processing.
  • Make logical decisions.


Cognitive Function

Cognition is acquiring understanding and knowledge through experience, thought, and the senses. Cognitive function is a broad term, referring to the mental processes involved in acquiring knowledge and manipulating information. Both are struggles for people with ADHD and ASD. 

Studies of behavioral symptoms of ADHD have reported cognitive impairments such as distractibility, slow processing speed, and increased reaction time variability. Cognitive impairments associated with ASD include neurocognition, which is used to guide behavior in constantly changing environments.

How does chess help?

Playing chess requires a great deal of critical thinking, strategic planning, and problem-solving skills. As a result, regular practice can improve your cognitive function, helping you to become more mentally sharp and alert.

How to Start

Chess is a creative answer to both executive and cognitive functioning challenges people with ADHD and Autism face. The trick is to get them to try something new. Learning how to play chess can be complicated. However, it can be fun too. Breaking steps down is a good strategy, Start with a peer who is more experienced at the game and can give pointers. He/she should also have good communication skills. Stay close to smooth out the edges.

  1. Set up the board.
  2. Learn how to move each piece.
  3. Identify special moves.
  4. Determine who makes the first move.
  5. Discuss how to win the game.
  6. Study basic strategies.
  7. Practice by playing lots of games.


Once the basic chess-playing skills have been mastered, learners move forward. Transfer to real-life situations is complex. The challenge is larger due to the characteristics of ADHD. 

Inattentiveness is a symptom of ADHD that impacts both school and everyday life. Concentration increases over time as the chess player gains experience. Non-academic improvements occur as well.

  • Social skills
  • Forward-thinking
  • Engagement
  • Communication
  • Mindfulness

Critical thinking is a challenge across public education in the United States. These skills are even more challenging for students with ADHD. It results from the inattentiveness associated with their diagnosis. Conventional strategies can be less successful. Pairing games with learning components has shown significant gains.

Chess is a great solution. Try it out!

Copyright © 2024 by Edna Brown. All Rights Reserved.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.