If you are the parent, grandparent, teacher or relative of a kid with ADHD, you’ve probably noticed that this kid loves video games. Video games have many of the qualities that engage children with ADHD—immediate feedback, high levels of stimulation, and challenges that are surmountable. The best video games are not only fun but make great demands upon the brain.
Recently, game developers and scientists have been teaming together to create video games that specifically target executive functions and disorders thereof, like the ADHD therapy game Project: EVO. But virtually any video game, past or present, targets the skills (working memory, sustained focus, flexibility, and planning) that kids with ADHD need to address. The key is talking to your kids about the games and the skills they use. Here are our recommendations for games that help ADHD—games so fun they’ll make fantastic gifts this 2015 holiday season. Plus, we’re linking to the LW4K Playbook for each game so you can read more about the major executive functions the game exercises and how to help your child translate that exercise to real world practice.
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is the latest video game to take place within the Warcraft realm (think: World of Warcraft), but it is less like the MMORPGs usually associated with the franchise and more like Magic: The Gathering—a trading card game involving elaborate combat strategy. The app is free, but purchase of additional card packs (with an average cost of $1.50) is inevitable. It’s an incredibly affordable way to help your kids work on flexibility and planning skills while playing a game they love and that their peers are talking about, too.
Star Wars Battlefront – This game is easily this season’s biggest hit, due to peak popularity of Star Wars and the sheer size and beauty of the game itself. Players face swarms of Stormtroopers in survival mode or join a team of up to 20 players online to explore and conquer Endor, Hoth, Tatooine, and other planets. Action games just got a big thumbs up from science for their benefits to brain development. Star Wars Battlefront in particular tests players’ self-control, self-awareness, and flexibility, which, combined with its hot ticket status makes it one of the best games that help ADHD this Christmas 2015.
Siege Hero Wizards Siege Hero Wizards is an Angry Birds/Bad Piggies clone with a traditional fantasy makeover. Your kids will find the gameplay familiar, and if they’re Angry Bird-ed out, this will be a refreshing and safe change. That is not to say that Siege Hero Wizards doesn’t stand on its own. With beautiful graphics and fantastic physics, the game will engage your child in working on flexibility and planning skills without embarrassing them.
Thomas Was Alone Thomas Was Alone is not a new release but don’t hold that against it. Once a browser game with a cult following, Thomas Was Alone is now incredibly popular and can be played on nearly all platforms, from Steam to Xbox One. Your child will practice important self-awareness and flexibility skills as they follow a team of newly-sentient rectangular AIs who are attempting to escape from the computer. Unique graphics and gameplay and a dry-humorous narrator earn Thomas Was Alone a spot among the best games that help ADHD.
Knightmare Tower A surprisingly engaging combat-based survival game for mobile devices, Knightmare Tower has gotten great reviews from video game critics. Players must keep their knight in the air by engaging enemies in combat as they progress their way through multiple levels of increasing difficulty. The need for concentration and fast thinking make the game especially useful for developing the skills of focus and flexibility, which is so important for kids with ADHD.