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Left-Handers in Society



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archival comments: parents | employers | manufacturers | misc
intro | basic problems | intrinsic bias | socio-cultural bias
parents & educators | tips: music, sports, daily life
employers | product design | misc comments
index & references
comment form

hand preference questionnaire
"the world of sinistral subterfuge"
what handedness has to do with brain lateralization

best with Netscape Navigator 3+ | author & editor: M.K. Holder, Ph.D.



p u r p o s e  o f  w e b  p a g e
p u r p o s e  o f  w e b  p a g e
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The objective of this website is to communicate accurate information and simple coping strategies pertainent to left-handers living in a right-biased society.
The author is a biological anthropologist who does primary research into handedness. This site is collaboratively built, incorporating comments from left-handers
worldwide. I ask that comments be directed to target groups (parents, educators, employers, manufacturers, physicians), so that these right-handers can (1) have a better appreciation of the problems encountered by left-handers, and (2) impliment practical strategies found at this site.
To keep this site managable, comments that reiterate what has been stated by others (as well as most miscellaneous comments) are placed on this archival page. If you are looking for comments on a specific topic, try the index.



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Don't know how to help your your left-handed child learn manual skills? Check your local library for left-handed manuals (see Diana 1972 in the bibliography for brief, illustrated sports tutorials.) Don't forget to check out the page for Lefty Tips that includes tips for music, sports, and daily life (e.g. coping with 3-ring binders, learning to tie a necktie, where to find left-handed items, etc.), the section on early handedness development in pre-schoolers, the section on common school problems faced by left-handers, and the section on medical problems.

m o r e   c o m m e n t s . . .

"I remember when my mother and I went shopping for a soft ball glove, neither of us really knew much about them. My mother figured if I was left-handed then I guess I must need a left-handed glove. To this day I still catch left-handed and throw right- handed. I still get confused as to how I should bat. Sometimes it feels comfortable one way and sometimes the other."
Anonymous

"My 4 1/2 year old daughter is a lefty.... Her classmates already notice that she has difficulty cutting things out (using her right-handed scissors). I understand her difficulty, being right-handed I'd probably maim myself if I had to cut something out using anything but my right-hand and right-handed scissors...."
Anonymous, USA

"As a young child my right-handed mother would put objects such as pens on the table in front of me rather than hand the object to one hand or the other. I am left-handed but do many things with my right hand and I think this is more to do with my inbred preferences rather than conditioning."
A. Donbavand, UNITED KINGDOM

a d v i c e . . .

"Encourage your children to use both hands, whether they be left- or right-handed. My parents never forced me to use my right hand but helped me learn to do many things with it, as well as making sure my left-handed skills were developed to their full potential. I write longhand very legibly, did well in school and am very creative. I actually prefer keyboards the way they are as I can use the numerical keypad whilst jotting notes. I keep the mouse on the right for the same reason. Encouraging ambidexterity to some degree makes the transition from a left to right task, or vice-versa, much less difficult, traumatic and frustrating."
Bronwyn Johnson, AUSTRALIA

"I do not think parents should force their kids to be right-handed."
MacGyver

"If your child is left-handed do NOT force them to be right-handed. I am left-handed and proud of it!!! People never made me change and I am very glad that they didn't!"
Nancy, USA

"All I can suggest is that parents don't try to prevent a left-handed child from using his/her left hand. There is nothing wrong with it and it is kind of special."
Daniel Gritzer, USA

"Let your kids write with what ever hand they want to!!"
Anonymous

"As a lefty, I have actually found it useful to learn how to use things in the right-handed way. Examples of this would be using right-handed scissors (in the right-handed way) and cutting my meat with my fork in my left hand and my knife in the right! This makes for faster eating :). And the scissors bit makes it easier on me as I am able to guide the paper (or item) that I am cutting with my left hand. Those are just two of the many ways that I have had to adapt myself to this right-handed world. As a last (albeit random) comment, I feel that parents and educators need to encourage the left-handedness in their children. Although some things are still difficult for me to master (such as knitting and crocheting), I have pretty much conquered this right-handed world. And I'm proud. :) "
M.J. Ku'ikahi Baricuatro, Hawai'i, USA

"I'm left-handed and handicapped, I was nine years old before I learned how to tie my shoes. A babysitter I had showed me how to tie my shoes left-handed."
Paul Lightle, USA

"My predominate side is left. I use my left hand, my left foot when I begin to walk and my left ear when I use the telephone. I don't remember ever having any problems as a result of being left-sided. I enjoy it because it makes me feel different. I am the only child of a left-handed father and a mother who was forced to use her right hand as a child. I was always expected as a child to be smarter, better and faster than other children. I consider that type of thinking to be the greater handicap to overcome. I found your questionnaire very interesting. I am interested in seeing the final results. Will they be published on your web site?"
Darlene Stogner, USA

Initial conclusions from my hand preference questionnaire research may be found at: Hand Preference Questionnaires: One Gets What One Asks For. This research has been on-going since 1991, and I will continue to collect data for some time before analyzing and writing up the results.
M.K. Holder

"Being left-handed is a real treat. Singled out amongst 7 siblings makes me feel special. Of note, though, is the fact that I have cerebral palsy. My father told my teachers not to switch me in grade school. I wasn't walking at the time. His reasoning (whether accurate or not, I don't know) was that to disturb my hand preference may well disturb my potential to walk. Perhaps in his way, he was trying to make me feel special in my left-handedness while living with c.p. at the same time. I guess he felt I didn't need the frustration of being switched at the hands of teachers. My parents and brothers and sisters seemed quite fascinated as I did things with my left hand. I learned how to knit right-handed when I was six, but still don't know how to crochet. I tried using a mirror to reverse the images, but no luck. I would recommend that parents not switch their child. Being left-handed has it's advantages. Check out all those creative minds out there -- a vast majority of them are lefties."
Carla MacInnis, CANADA

"Parents, I'm a 17-year-old male that goes to a very, very same school and it has never that bad to be left-handed, just cumbersome. So if you have a left-handed child, Please don't force to do things with their right hand. And yes, it is normal for left-handers to do something with their right hand (but I do everything left hand, part of a small group in society). And please just let your child be, and let him/her figure how things for themself. Thanks, from a totally left-handed person"
Todd Towles, USA

"I was lucky in being left-handed because both of my parents are lefties, so unlike many of my friends who were unforunate enough to have parents who made them do things the "right way", I didn't have to worry about my mom or anyone else to trying to correct me. My cousin was not so lucky, her parents really didn't pay attention to her, so her instructor made her write what I call "backwards" (using her right hand). I feel bad for her, it's like she's almost not apart of the family anymore because of it. I just want to say to any parent or educator or whomever, the hand that you write with is determined in the womb (at least that is my understanding) and no matter how hard you try your children will not like being told that something about them is not correct."
Terry Sue Reynolds, USA

"I consider myself a left-hander, although in many activities, I prefer my right -- whether from a lifetime of conditioning or actual preference. However, as a child, I learned to play piano and noticed that the even strengthening of both hands through scales and exercises generated more precision and comfort in using both hands. Also, in art classes, I had an instructor who required that all students shift back and forth between hands during drawing and painting exercises in an effort to free up artistic vision. I believe both of these practices have contributed to my willingness to insist on using whichever hand worked best for me and to request adjustments to my tools or environment."
Kim Van Allsburg, USA

"Don't be afraid to sign your kids up for music lessons. Although they might have mechanical difficulty with most instruments, they also tend to be more musically inclined. Most instructors care more about musicality than technicalities."
Anonymous, USA

"I did not learn to tie my shoes until I was 8 or 9. I had always thought that I was just slow -- at least thats what my teacher told my parents. It was not until a few years ago that I realized the problem. I had lost a brand new mattress on the freeway due to a knot slipping. I vowed this would never happen again and went to the local libary for a book and video. The video had a left- handed sailor from New Zealand demostrating how to tie basic knot. First he would show the right-handed way and he would say "Alright then here the left-handed way to tie the Bowline." It dawned on me that all the people who tried to show me how to tie my shoes were doing in a way that was a mirror image to how I should be doing it. As a result I insisted that my right-handed wife show my right-handed son how to tie his shoe so as to avoid the same problem in reverse."
Mike Sadlier, Woodland, Washington, USA

"When your child wants to use their left hand, help them. Do not pin their hand to their clothes so they must use their right hand!!! Hay Holder THANKS!"
egise@pbi.net, USA

g o o d   e x p e r i e n c e s . . .

"The youngest of four, I was the odd one. When my mother put a bowl of cereal down in front of me, I picked up a fork with my left hand and a spoon in my right and began to eat with both. Thankfully, her grandfather was a lefty forced to be right-handed in writing but taught his son (her father) how to do everything else left- and right-handed. She let me learn at my own pace and with whatever hand I wanted to use for that specific task. My parents were supportive but never made a big issue of my handedness. I adapt as I can and when I can't, I find equipment that matches how I want to do things. I recently had a grandmother anxiously ask me if it was hard for me growing up, since she has a potential left-handed grandson. I told her he would face some challenges, but let him go his own way."
Nancy Luedke, USA

"My being left-handed was a non-issue in my family and at school. My mother just told the teacher "she is left-handed and see that she stays that way." Because of my parents attitude to this, I never felt I was different from my four sisters and one brother. Superior maybe but not different. Just kidding"
Anonymous, USA

"I'm a middle kid (older sister, younger brother). My Mom and Dad encouraged me to explore the world as a leftie. Instead of feeling like I had a handicap, I was helped to feel like I was sort of special. I'm 25 and still feel special -- but not just 'cause I'm a leftie. Unconditional love is the key -- be what you want to be and all that you can be -- be you rightie or leftie!!!"
Christa, Campbell River, BC, Canada

Go to the Lefty Tips page for more practical advice.

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b a d   e x p e r i e n c e s . . .

"Along with the school desk problem my grades lower as a result of my handwriting. Mine slanted to the right but I was writing with my left. All my grades were affected by this and I had to stay after school to improve it. I am 44 now, and still embarrassed. Thing is, my writing was more legible than many, just not graceful."
Anonymous, USA

"During my kindergarden year it was determined that I was ambidextrous, however, the teacher feared that I would get confused later on in school; she told my mother that I should be taught to write with one hand or the other. My mother decided that I should be a lefty (to be different from the rest of the family). I feel now that I have lost a major talent that set me apart from other people."
Anonymous, USA

a d v i c e . . .

"Preventing a child for being left-handed it's not really something WE have control over so what gives them the right to try to control it. Personally going through grade school when someone noticed, I felt like a butterfly in a jar, but in high school I found that a few times four to five of us were put together (by innocent teachers) and then found out we were all lefties, so in my opinion it's becoming more prevelant and accepted. So why are some authority figures still treating it as if it were "bad"?"
T'ai Li Lawson

"Even though I am left-handed, I encourage teaching others to use their right hand. One should be very cautious, however, not to FORCE a student to use his/her right hand. For example, when teaching a child to write, put the pencil in his/her right hand. I'm suggesting this because, like it or not, this is a "right-handed world". Nobody ever forced me to use my left hand (that I can recall), yet I write right-handed and do some other things right-handed. I think I converted myself unconciously by simply mimicking others when I was learning, but who knows, maybe some teacher ahead of her time did exactly what I'm suggesting here!"
Joe Sordi, USA

"I am a left-handed pianist myself, and the above comment has nothing to do with being left-handed. The melody is in the right hand, because it *sounds* better that way. If you play a piece with the melody in the left, and accompaniment in the right, it would sound *horrid*. In fact, left hand is frequently harder to play, because you move it a lot more, and can't look to see where you're moving it. Generally, chords are in the left hand, and playing octaves, and that takes great strength. Much more strength than to play even fast melodies with the right hand. Part of piano is strengthening your hands, while left-handed people may need to strengthen their right hands, right-handed people really need to strengthen their left hands."
Becky Anne Christensen, Fresno, CA, USA
beckyanne@iforge.com

"Why can't you have leftie stuff for leftie people?"
Anonymous

"I did not realize this when I was in school but the fact that I was left-handed made it difficult to write on the blackboard (I tend to erase what I write since I prefer to drag my hand across the board). Try it left-handed!! This has become more evident to me as an adult when I stand in front of an audience and want to write something. These days its done on a grease board which erases even more easily. Although I do not remember this causing undue problems in grade school through my college years I can envision that some left-handed students would be leary to do work on the board, in front of the class, because it is difficult to write "nicely" without erasing it. I've turned this into a joke when I teach now. All of my visual aids are slides, overheads and/or handouts. I explain to my audience, quite frankly, that they will prefer it that way. Otherwise they would have to take notes quickly before I erase what I've written!!"
Mitch, USA

"I'm 16 years old, and I have taught myself to cut using right-handed scissors. When I was young, I had left-handed scissors provided for me in class, but they were dull and difficult to use. As a result, I was graded down on my "fine motor skills" such as writing and cutting. I've learned to use right-handed scissors very well; it's hard to find big pairs of lefty scissors anyway. If a left-handed student ends up in your class, please don't force them one way or another, but let them try BOTH types of scissors before making up their mind which type to use.
Sarah A. Lonnevik, USA (bubbles@texoma.com)

"I believe that left-handers are highly discriminated against in our public education system. Left-handed people have been shown to have the ability to do more things at a time than right-handers. Please take this into consideration and thank you for your time.
Douglas Scott, USA

"I am left-handed and a teacher. This year I asked who was left-handed in my class. The response, in unison(!) was, "YOU are." I was the only one, and they had noticed, which I thought was curious. Because I have had to learn how to navigate through a right-handed world, I have become sensitive to how to give directions, how to model, how to direct others. I provide directions and then expect students to reach the same goal in their own way. For example, if a certain task is to be done, I ask students what they need to be comfortable to do it. They have the responsibility to do an assignment and the responsibility to think how they need to arrange themselves to get it done. It works well and over the years I have found that everyone feels a sense of relief at being told to evaluate a task for themselves and then do it. Afterwards we discuss the adapations and different styles. Part of the benefit of that is that it sparks ideas and modifications in others."
Cyrene Slegona, USA

Go to the Lefty Tips page for more practical advice.

g o o d   e x p e r i e n c e s . . . . . . . . . . .
"I was fortunate enough to have a second-grade teacher (in the 1950s) who circumvented the rules of "right-hand only" by loosely strapping my left elbow to my waistline and allowing me to write wrist down instead of the usual wrist-over style of most southpaws. I believe it encouraged my ambidexterity."
Bobette (Miller) Prell, USA

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"Us LEFT-HANDED people have a tougher time doing things in a right-handed world. For instance, pipe threads are right-handed, but gas regulators are left-handed for safty reasons. LEFT-HANDED people do not see things backwards because we are in the right mind. If we have a problem let it subside. US LEFTYs will get it somehow. My ex-boss was a righty and I was his first lefty employee; he learned to cope with my LEFTY way of thinking."
Alan Mendel, USA

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"Sure as a left-hander, I have trouble with spiral bound notebooks, can openers, door handles, and certain non- ambidexterous butter knives, but has anyone noticed how hard it is to use the toilet in public restrooms? Crimony, you have to turn and twist like KRAZY!"
Anonymous, USA

"Leftys are just as important (even more so) than rightys. There are not enough lefty products therefore it is too difficult to do many things such as: cake cutters, can openers and many other everyday appliances. I hope this comment will affect some of you rightys out there to do something about our troubles."
Charley B. & Allan K., Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

"My two sons are left-handed as well as most parents I am trying to offer them the best posibilities to grow, unfortunately in my country there is now available left-handed products. I am trying to get those but have insufficient info.... I am very angry because the lack of products and some people irrational thinking has make my sons to suffer some discrimination and aggresions like 'you seem stupid for not doing these right', when they have to cut paper with right-handed scissors."
Pablo Aldrett, MEXICO

click here info on retailers.

"As a left-handed person, I am having a difficult time in college because all the desks seem to be made for right-handed people. I don't understand why you can't make desks to work for everyone."
Anonymous, USA

"I always have trouble using a hand-held can opener. Gearshifts are always on the right side of the car. Desks are made for right-handers. All of these things make me feel left out of the world.
I hate the way notebooks and composition books are made; especially when the teacher requires you to write in them. I also dislike the way ink smears. It seems as if I have more ink on me than the paper. All of these products would make you think that left-handers are non-existant."
Jacklyn, USA

"I find many tools are hard to use with my left hand. Please try to make more left-handed items, please."
Anonymous, USA

"As a lefty, I've had major problems in the kitchen, especially with knives. And when I worked in a fast-food job, the fry-scooper had a handle on the right side, so I couldn't even use it, and they switched me to cashier. (maybe that wasn't so bad after all.) My grandmother was a lefty, and they forced her to switch over. I think it contributed to her shyness."
Anonymous

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"When I watch my husband use a knife it looks so awkward. The way he holds it is back to front and the action looks clumsy and dangerous. I watch, waiting for him to cut himself. The whole situation seems wrong. My husband is right handed."
Anonymous

"I've found it helpful to buy kitchen knives that aren't sharpened from the right side but from the middle. The knives I chose for slicing thin cuts like ham or bread I resharpen from the left. It has improved my culinary skills and enjoyment as well as it has lessened the hazards and botched turkey carvings when entertaining on holidays."
Bill Fletcher, Kansas, USA

NOTE: Left-handed knives are available; a left-hander on-line maintains a list of retailers of left-handed items.

"I'm a rare bird! I am not only ambidextrous but a perfect mirror writer a la Leonardo Da Vinci. If pressed, I can write with both hands at the same time, one forwards and one backwards. I have no neurological disease, just additional capabilities. When raising children, I could pick up one in my arms and stir the soup with my other hand. When I had a broken arm after a car accident, I merely switched. As far as lefty problems; I do knock things over, stumble quite a bit, but that may be age related; I'm no chicken. I wow people at parties for about 5 minutes with my talent as they get free demonstrations and wonder what else is going on in my lobes."
G. Sananes, USA

"Being left-handed is not all bad. It sets us apart from others. I have a friend that is left-handed and I am left-handed too. We are both very creative. We work from our right side of the brain. I would rather be creative then right- handed left brainer. Not to be rude but some right-handers do not have the spark."
Anonymous, USA

The popular notion of "left-hand/right-brain" is not neurologically accurate. In fact, at least half of left-handers have the same pattern of left-hemispheric specialization for language as most right-handers. (See What does Handedess have to do with Brain Lateralization for more information.)
M.K. Holder

"I would like to direct this comment to the medical community: I have no idea if these two things are related or not, but it has crossed my mind before that perhaps there could be a connection or a predisposition. I am very strongly left-handed, and I have an anxiety/panic disorder. The onset of it was in my early twenties (I am now in my late twenties). This may be something to consider when researching anxiety disorders."
Anonymous

"I am eight years old and I want to know more about lefties. I am left-handed. Carmencita I have seven left-handed freinds in my grade."
Carmen Iglesias Garma, ARGENTINA

"I consider myself a true lefty's lefty. There isn't much my right hand is good for other than keeping me symmetrical. There have been at least two lefties in every generation of my family as far back as family records go, so I got a lot of support growing up and learning basics like tying my shoes, but when I was learning to write, I got the impression there was something wrong with me because it felt natural to write from right to left, with the letters reversed. I could also easily write upside-down and backwards. Now it seems that it is quite normal for many lefties, just like mixing up letters in words and phone numbers. It's great to see research like yours going on; I, for one, feel more confident knowing I'm not alone in my "differences"."
Adrienne D., USA

"I think all left-handers should stand up for themselves. We need more support. Also I think there should be a store meant for left-handers. In it, we can buy left-hand equipment."
Stuy, USA

"I really would appreciate any info about potential career choices for lefties. I've been in electronics assembly for almost twenty years, and I'm thinking about other job opportunities I might be missing out on. I have a lot of self-searching to do, but any input would be helpful. Thanks, and I think this Lefties Website is extremely cool. Keep it up, because I'll be checking up on this alot!!! Lefties of the world unite in spreading friendship and understanding!"
J. Basta, USA

Pursue whatever you want to do! One look at the Famous Left-Handers page illustrates the diversity of human talent. The only advice I would offer is for strong left-handers to avoid certain manufacturing or construction work that require you to operate equipment "backwards", as this can be a real safety issue.
M.K. Holder

"I would like to say that I feel very special being left-handed. I have also been labelled many other things, mainly wierd. Left-handers are among the most creative, intuitive and intelligent people that walk the face of this earth. They are the poets, the inventors, the healers of the mind. Left-handers are really aware on so many different levels all at the same time. All I ask is that society, treat leftys for the very unique people that they are."
Anonymous

"I guess I am just lucky. I'm 33 and a lefty. My parents never made a big deal out of it, and other than sometimes being annoyed about can openers and such, I have not found life to be difficult at all. I guess I'm in the wrong web site, because I don't find this to be an issue with me at all. Good luck to all of those who feel this is something that must be "overcome"."
Vickie Harris, USA

"I like being left-handed because it makes me different."
Devin Anderson, USA

"Leftys are more creative and fun to be around then right-handers! So just because we are leftys don't think we can't do the things most right-handers can do!"
Anonymous, USA

"The very word "ambidextrous" is a slight to lefties. "Dextral" means "right". The word literally means "to have two right hands". I am ambidextrous, but strongly favor my left hand. I can't write with my right at all. There ought to be a word for those of us who are predominately left-handed, yet can use our right with equal facility. "Ambisinistral"?
Mitchell Swan, USA

Shall I open the Pandora's Box of Semantics? When I use the phrase "left-handers and ambidextrals", I am referring to different patterns of handedness (I formerly used "non-right-handers", but some also found this offensive.) Dictionaries state that "ambidexterous" means "able to use both hands equally well". By that definition, you could not be described as ambidexterous, since you can't write with either hand equally well, and thus the term should not be an affront to you. In my research, I describe two forms of ambidexterity: Type I Ambidexterity is someone who can perform most manual tasks with equal facility with either hand. Type II Ambidexterity is someone who performs roughly half of manual tasks well with the right hand and the other half well with the left hand (dual specialists). Of course, these are theoretical definitions; real life is not so neat and tidy.
        There is a thin semantic line between "dextral" and "dexterous" -- you are right that "dextral" means "pertaining to the right", but "dexterous" has a broader meaning, "skillfull or adroit in the use of the hands". So, following your logical argument, the politically correct adjective should be "ambidexterous" rather than "ambidextral" (I confess I use "ambidextral" because it sounds better in plural form than "ambidexterous"). I find it surprising that you would prefer "ambisinistral", since "sinistral" derives from SINSTER and is one of the most biased terms for left-handedness!
M.K. Holder

"I think being left-handed has made me stronger. It doesn't matter how a desk is setup or where a mouse is. I write with my left but without the hook. I found that if I turn my paper 90 degrees I could write on a right-handed desk without a problem. Of course, this means I can't have any books on my desk. But most of those kinds of desks don't have enough room for books even for right-handers. My mouse is on the right side. When I'am working on left-handers PCs I don't even notice the difference. Where ever the mouse is I will reach for it with the appropriate hand. I do have problems with telling left from right. I also have a big problem with turning screws or nuts. A teacher told me a little rhyme: righty tighty lefty loosey. Helps a bunch when I can't remember which way to turn something. I also have problems with telling hot from cold. It isn't because I don't know the difference it just seems I will say the opposite or in some cases turn the wrong facet (usually with old houses or in Europe - a hot and a cold knob). Is this typical? Or just a case of a lefty in a righty world."
Anonymous, USA

"I am naturally right-handed but my older sister taught me how to write with my left hand because she is left-handed. As a result I do some things with my right hand like cutting, etc. Sports, I do with my left hand. I don't have that many problems in the right-handedness of tools because I do those things with my right hand. I write with my left and paint and draw with both hands. When I was in second grade, I started writing things backwards and had to do extra excercises after class to correct that. I sometimes have trouble with telling my right from my left."
Ellen Roberts, USA

"Growing up left-handed was at first difficult. I was not allowed to use the left-handed scissors in parochial grade school etc. As I got older, I did learn to adapt. Driving a stick [shift] or using a mouse feels natural to me now. It seems that there is a great amount of indifference to the situation of lefties who are not somewhat ambidextrous, so please give us our equal due."
Anonymous, USA

"I grew up using desks or tables in school. It wasn't until University that I encountered chairs with writing arms on them. On the right, of course. However I never had any problems with these. I placed my writing pad at right angles to the arm, and leaned my arm across my body to write. The only problems I had occurred when someone actually realised there were left-handed chairs and tried to force me to use one! I found it very uncomfortable to use and went back to the right-handed one. A right-handed friend, however, started using the LH chair, finding the same writing position as I was using to be more comfortable.
    I find most LH products unnecessary, as I have adapted so well to using RH in odd positions. I use my mouse on the left side of the keyboard with my hand curled over it so my index finger is on the correct button. It alarms me that ergonomic mice are not available in LH, as they are totally unusable for lefties. One solution -- insist on a trackball. The only thing I do with my LH can opener is get RH people to use it so that they get some idea of our problems. But I LOVE my LH ruler. I never was very good at measuring backwards. RH people think LH rulers are a joke..."
Fran Myers, New South Wales, AUSTRALIA

"I've never had any problems with being left-handed. Born in the '50s the teachers just had to be mildly persuaded to let me use my "southpaw". There have been some research showing that dyslexia could be more frequent among us. For me though it has been the opposite -- I've always been good with words and writing. But -- I also have a "defect" -- I can speak (or read or write) fluently backwards. Is there by any chance any one out there who has the same talent?"
Anonymous, SWEDEN

Statistically, there is a greater incidence of left-handers and ambidexters among dyslexics and also among gifted math and science students. Many left-handers can read/write fluently backwards.
M.K. Holder

"I am seeking to become ambidextrous and am currently practicing writing with my left hand....Is this a futile attempt or will I be able to become ambidextrous with practice?"
Anonymous

You can probably learn to scribble with the non-preferred hand if you practice enough, but will likely never be as legible or as fast as with your preferred hand. Viewers, please note that this page is NOT for general questions such as this, but to address useful comments to the target groups.
M.K. Holder

"I am rather disturbed to read all the comments by left-handed individuals describing how "discriminated against" they are. Yes, there are some annoying little things that are unfair, like shaking hands with someone when instinctively your left arm goes out. However, feeling discriminated against in my opinion is only a state of mind when it comes to left-handers. I do not believe it to be the large issue that some of you are suggesting. I am left-handed. My parents were very supporting and did not make a huge deal out of it. My teachers in high school did not even comment on it (except in first grade). Yes, not having a left-handed glove for baseball was disturbing (my school immediately placed an order to buy one, since I was not the only left-hander complaining), but I've learned to cope. In fact, it has all become so natural, that I don't think about it. And what other group of people can find instant comradery with another simply because their hand preference is identical. Not right-handers."
Kristin Alicia Godfrey, USA

I'd guess that most left-handers have learned to ignore minor inconviences -- this page is not for them. This page was designed to (a) better inform right-handers and (b) share coping strategies so that others may enjoy the same type of support as you have!
M.K. Holder

"As the only lefty in the family with 8 children, I always had a good seat at the supper table! Everyone else preferred the corner seats so they could have a little more room on one side, but I was the only one who automatically got the corner! A small advantage, sure, but we need all the advantage we can get!"
Anonymous, USA

"I am a thirty-seven-year-old left-handed woman, and I have been fortunate in that my parents and teachers never tried to change my way of writing. I feel that being left-handed actually makes for a more adaptable person. Iwas a cashier at a grocery store in college and had to use my right hand for the cash, as well I drive a standard transmission and must use my right hand to change gears. The world is full of little obstacles such as these, but you just have to accept them and deal with it. Being left-handed has always made me feel like I belong to an exclusive group, and I KNOW some of the things that I can do with my right hand, right-handed people could only dream of being able to do with their left hand. My only regret is that I have two daughters and neither one is left-handed!"
Tracy Davis, CANADA

"This is a great comment page. However, I would like to hear more from leftys on their everyday neurological difficulties. More specifically, does anyone experience things such as difficulty concentrating, short attention span, depression, and (when trying to concentrate) feeling as though you are thinking in fast-forward? I am a lefty with ambidextrous traits. I write, drink, eat, and brush teeth with my left hand, but I throw, bat and kick with my right (side.) I switch easily when playing tennis. Mechanically, I've adapted well to the right-handed world, (even chainsaws!). My apologies to those I'm about to offend but even though I was classified as "gifted", I've often felt that I was handicapped by the above problems."
Anonymous, USA

A reminder that the purpose of this page is to offer insight and coping strategies for the targeted audience; you might try posting such a general query to the alt.lefthanders use group, to other such discussion groups, or at least giving your e-mail so that people may contact you directly.
M.K. Holder

"I am a 11-year-old lefty. I feel that lefties are unique and I love being a lefties. I think that lefties were and still are are treated unfairly. Lefties were called "southpaws" and often were considered lower in class. Some people even were forced to 'correct' their left-handedness. I think that lefties deserve fair treatment and rights."
Emily, USA

"This is a comment for those whose training programs include a lot of rote physical repetition: for example, piano playing and martial arts training. In both these areas, I learned to do over and over certain moves which stem from a right"handed perspective. For example, most piano pieces put the melody in the right hand, and most of the complicated scale runs, too. Similarly, in martial arts, I was primarily taught to block left and punch right. Although we were told to practise with both hands in both of these endeavours, we nevertheless tended to concentrate on the one side. It seems to me that left-handers could achieve some remarkable things on a piano keyboard if there were a program of study designed to take advantage of the greater facility of such players' left hands. As well, in martial arts, it seems to me that I could have benefitted a lot from training to use my stronger arm more consistently. Being left-handed is a disadvantage at times, but only because the majority of human beings are right-handed. I think it would be worth our while to look into what advantages left-handedness might bring us."
Anonymous, CANADA

"Why is this even a topic of discussion. Don't we have more important things to worry about than to whether or not being left-handed is evil? I am left-handed by no choice of my own, not that it would matter if I did choose. Left is right and right is right and anybody who disagrees is WRONG!"
Jeff McCoy, USA

Read the purpose of web page.  M.K. Holder

"Being left-handed myself. I had classmates in grade school who use to tease me for being left-handed. There were a couple who would try to get me upset by urguing that I was originally right-handed which wasn't true."
Kitty Marsh, California, USA

"being left-handed is the bomb" Terra Searcey, USA

"I feel that I have an advantage over others because everyone tried to make me right-handed. I feel it was the learning to cope that gave me the ability to do well in school and to strive to get the most out of life."
Anonymous

"I feel that I have an advantage over others because everyone tried to make me right-handed. I feel it was the learning to cope that gave me the ability to do well in school and to strive to get the most out of life."
Anonymous

"I'm 14 and left-handed. I eat and write with my left hand, but growing up with a right-handed family, I learned to play sports right-handed. The only thing in life that seems hard for me to adjust with, is working in a right-handed desk."
Dawn Waner, USA

"I'm a left-handed girl and I've never had any huge problems with that, but of course some daily life troubles. In elementary school I was poor in handicraft, especially crocheting when my teacher couldn't help me, but now I even knit to both directions. In higher schools we have always had ordinary desks, for both hands. When I was little I always used to write my name backwards on my drawings, I still love drawing. I haven't had learning difficulties, I like languages, maths and drawing. Some letters or numbers I mix sometimes (but rarely) like b,d,z (luckily they aren't common in Finnish language) and 3. Often my hand also gets dirty when it sweeps the text I've just written (hate that!). And I must watch what kind of a notepad I buy. Well, but I like being lefty anyway! (but there should be a left-handed store in Finland, too!!)"
Vasuri (=left-handed in Finnish), FINLAND

"I started off being totally left-handed. I began to take piano lessons at 5 years. A few years later I began to 'convert' by using scissors right-handed. I was very self-conscious of being 'different', and didn't like that. I believe playing the piano did make me more of an ambidextrous person. It took me years to get out of my shell. I wonder if it was the stigmatism of being different or if it was my upbringing that made me so inhibited.... Being a middle-child, I could hide easier. I'm 39 years old, and just going to college now. Taking Psychology has been a help in understanding this difference and appreciating the complexities of life."
Nancy, Maine, USA

"Hi to all the lefties, South Paws, Citch og's out there.... being an Irish leftie I have had great problems with driving [in the States]. I am from Ireland and we use the left side of the road to drive on, therefore the steering wheel is on the left hand side. Since I've been in the States I found it very hard to shift gears with my right hand and even found myself walking to the passenger door thinking I can drive. I've found crossing the road difficult also.        Just to add I've always found scissors a great problem. I've gotten used to them of course but still I use my left hand to hold them and it's so difficult and quite sore on the hand. I'm always the one to ask to open the bottle tops and jam jars so I suppose it works in both ways!"
Maxxi, IRELAND

"Although left-handedness is not as prevalent as right-handedness, society should make an effort to integrate left-handedness into skills deveopment, that is, attempt to ignite ambidexterity at an early stage in life. Such an idea is sure to cause conceptual integration within the human psyche."
Anthony B. Annechino, USA

Historically, there have been both pedagogical and popular movements arguing for presumed benefits to be derived from encouraging ambidexterity. However, there is no evidence that encouraging children (or adults) to become ambidexterous has resulted in "conceptual integration", or any other notable benefit.
M.K. Holder

"I am right-handed and am tired of all the whining from left-handers don't blame me or society, get off your duff and DO something about it. Either change your handedness, your attitude, or the situation. My wife of 23 years is left-handed and is a direct answer to prayer! My wife SUSAN is definitely in her right mind and has always kept me in-line when I start to go ballistic. She is a candidate for sainthood. She is my reason for living. She is NOT a whiner, she's a doer. She is a deposit cashier for a large HMO and can accomplish whatever she wants to do. Having known SUSAN for almost 30 yrs, I am thrilled that she rarely mentions her "handicap" which is what I imagine left"handedness is from all the wailing on this page!!
Anonymous, USA

Please read the statement of purpose for this page. What you call "whining" is "doing something about it" -- by (a) helping educators/employers interact more productively with students/employees and by (b) publishing various coping mechanisms and musical/sports tips. (See also the next comments.)
M.K. Holder

"I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the creator of this website. I have found your site to be full of useful and important facts on handedness. Keep up the good work! You have been a great help to our household."
Cheryl O'Dell, New Jersey, USA

"Generally accepted theory when I was studying this subject in psychology was that only a small percentage of people were left-handed as indicated, in your artical [sic]. Further, that attempts to change the handedness was vertually [sic] but not altogether impossible. By the same logic, only a small percentage of the population is right-handed, with the same difficulties in attempting to change handedness. The majority of the population, is ambidextrous. Having said all that, it has been the proclivity of the majority (right-handers) as indicated, that has dictated the the norms, and social mores, (middle Eastern society)... the majority of the population is not right- or left-handed, they only appear that way, as right-handed and this has been perpetuated by the society."
J. Lyons, California, USA

Evidence from over 160 years of research into handedness indicates that human populations across the world are overwhelmingly right-handed, not ambidexterous as you suggest. However, the terms used ("left-handed", "right-handed", "ambidexterous") do not have have standard, empirically-based definitions, but are based on various theoretical criteria used by researchers; my work addresses this ambiquity.
M.K. Holder

"I remember, as a child, having to use a rightie baseball glove, and after catching the ball, removing the glove from my left hand to throw the ball. As a kid, I was secretly proud how adept I got at this. But when I was older and could afford a real leftie glove, I discovered I could not catch with my right hand! People are sometimes surprised to see the way I cut a steak, keeping the knife in my left hand and picking up the piece with the fork in my right hand to eat. I consider myself ambidextrous with a dominant left. Like so many others, I learned to adapt well."
Vic Behan, USA

"I am 12 and proud to be left-handed, I went to a Jewish barmitzvah. I found it very interesting that the books there were writen "backwards". The first page was in the back and the last in the front I found this very interesting and thought it would be great if they made school books this way for leftys because I have always had problems with the way they are at my school."
Louis, California, USA

"I am 62 years old and have always had to adjust to a right-handed world. In school, my teacher tried unsuccessfully to switch me from left to right -- it didn't take. I also write with a hook and angle my paper facing left. Teacher thought I should at least face the paper to the right and write in a vertical up and down posture. (The old Palmer method, you know). I complied when she was watching me. When her back was turned, I switched back to MY natural writing posture. She never knew the difference! My writing looks like "right"-handed writing. It is not slanted to the left. I write in side-bound notebacks from back to front -- the binding, therefore, is on my right. I use top-bound notebooks upside-down. From my earliest memory, people have always commented on "how I write" as though I had some sort of handicap! For a time, I was a secretary and took shorthand (upside-down, of course). I was ... good at it! Thank God for computers -- they don't care if you use your feet when writing."
Barb Stone, USA

"As a leftie for 24 years I would like to sign off and say that I've NEVER considered my handedness except in those few times that someone asks if I'm a leftie, to which I usually reply either "all my life" or "no, I just like the attention". In any event, I have seen a few items manufactured specifically for right-handers and have always managed to adapt with little to no fuss. I guess my point is ... I just don't see the issue. Unless science prove that handedness has a universal effect on people (other than people just finding things to talk/complain/cajole about), WHO CARES? "
Tom Keyes (griffon4@pacbell.net), USA

Glad to hear intrinsic bias is not a problem for you personally. However, as evidenced by comments to these pages, many people do experience problems. They care. And as an educator, I care about anything that interferes with a students educational and developmental process. Please see the statement of purpose for this site.
M.K. Holder

Gary Marcellus, CANADA posted a question; I'll be happy to reply if you will provide your e-mail address. This page is designed for readers to direct comments to specific target groups; other questions/correspondence should be directed to M.K. Holder via e-mail (remember to include your e-mail address if asking a question!)

Troy Earl Camplin, USA sent a long comment telling what he learned from doing a research paper on handedness. I am not posting this here because (1) the primary focus of this page is to communicate short comments to the target audience of parents, educators, employers, and (2) while he gave a nice summary of some research, the findings he mentions are just two hypotheses among many. The laterality research literature harbors many inconsistencies and is quite controversial; when designing my webpages, I decided it was better not to confuse and perhaps misinform readers by discussing theoretical aspects of this research, rather to state only what can be said with confidence (see What Does Handedness Have to do with Brain Lateralization and Hand Preference Questionnaires: One Gets What One Asks For.)

To Patrick Gannon: This is not a page for general announcements, but for the specified purpose of directing comments from left-handers and ambidextrals to the target groups. If you contact me directly, I will be happy to offer some refererences; otherwise, you might consider posting your query to the alt.lefthanders newsgroup.

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LAST UPDATE:  19 January 1998