Mathematics Therapy in Mental Disorders

Conference: The Paris Conference on Education (PCE2022)
Title: Mathematics Therapy in Mental Disorders
Stream: Assessment Theories & Methodologies
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Flaminia Malvezzi Campeggi, University of Verona, Italy


Research studies have shown that children with autism show unique patterns of brain activation when they are committed to solving mathematical problems (Iuculano T. et al, 2014). On the other hand, papers frequently report of mathematics anxiety in children, adolescents and adults, as being related to their performances in mathematics (Buratta et al., 2019; Wang et al., 2020); it seems widely accepted in the scientific literature that mathematical underperformances compromise self-confidence and self-esteem. However, very little is reported in relation to the reverse approach: the possible therapeutic effect of engaging in well-conceived mathematical problems to improve self-confidence, especially in adolescents or adults who are suffering from mental disorders. The mathematics therapy project is devoted to the developing of best practices for effectively teaching and efficiently learning mathematics, when young adults and adults experiencing mental disorders are involved. Some preliminary observations show that a teamwork in the Italian competition mathematics without borders can be beneficial to the whole school class, as it is acting and dramatising geometric theorems. Moreover, a case history of a young adult suffering from depression and mental disorders, including self-harm, shows encouraging data on the role of mathematics for the motivation towards high-level achievements. Providing proper education for young adults who have abandoned their studies for personal difficulties would help them find a role in society, which is the ultimate goal of the mathematics therapy project.

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