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Young People, Parents, Carers and professionals working towards Positive Outcomes

Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) group at Bridging the Gap Together!

The group was started following requests from several parents of children with Autism and other social difficulties.

Since the group started, it has been immensely popular, with clear and immediate benefits to the young people taking part, there are currently 15 members of the group, with more waiting to join when capacity increases.

The structure of the sessions at Bridging the Gap Together is that there are volunteers who are experienced D&D players and Dungeon Masters (DM) who manage the sessions and are on hand to answer questions and make sure that the space is safe for all participants.  In the first few sessions, the volunteers ran the games, after that the young people took on the role of DM, running campaigns that they had created themselves with the other participants as players.

The benefits of D&D are very well documented, there will be some links to articles at the end.  Benefits can be split down into social, educational, and therapeutic.

Social benefits are the easiest to see, the game involves several players sitting around a table, r as a character in a scenario or campaign which has been designed by the DM, the players will decide what their character wants to do, and everyone will interact and work together to move through the scenario, which can unfold in any way the players actions take it.  So you have leadership skills, both from the DM and the players as they try to talk the group into one course of action or another.  There is negotiation and compromise, as different players may have different ideas on how to proceed, and they will need to navigate that.  And there is direct p communication and fun, as the players enjoy the game and the company of the other people playing.

Academic benefits are also very clear to people familiar with the game, the game involves a lot of maths and mathematical representations of strengths and weaknesses. Solving the various puzzles and difficulties involves a lot of structured problem-solving that develops useful skills in other contexts, see the links at the end for more information on studies done on this.

And lastly, there are the therapeutic benefits, there are more and more professional therapists who have started using D&D as a therapeutic tool, in adults and children.  The framework of D&D is that you will be playing a character, with its strengths and weaknesses, and playing out scenarios, conversations and interactions that their character would have.  This allows players to work through issues, questions, and in some cases trauma, in a safe environment, and at a remove from themselves, because it's their character experiencing x or y, rather than themselves.  In the D&D club at Bridging the Gap Together! this isn't the focus of the group so care is taken that subjects don't get too intense.  But it does still provide significant benefits to the players who are in the stage of their life that they are figuring out so much about themselves, it provides a safe place for them to do this.

Since starting the group only in August 2023, the feedback from the parents and young people who have been taking part has been glowing, and clearly shows the value of the project so far, and going forward.