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Changing Dominance

The most common reason that a person must switch dominance is that, for some reason, they are no longer able to use their dominant hand. This can be due to a sudden trauma, such as a motor vehicle accident, or the result of a steady deterioration due to disease. Sometimes, however, the increasing discomfort of a repetitive strain injury in the dominant hand causes the person try writing with their non-dominant hand, just to avoid the pain.

Switching hand-writing dominance is not easy or natural. It takes perseverance and many hours of practice to train your non-dominant hand how to print or write.

The following recommendations are given to anyone attempting to change the hand with which they write:

  • Use a structured method. I recommend the Peterson Directed Handwriting Method.
  • Practice keyboarding. This helps develop the motor control necessary for writing. You donít need to become a one-handed touch typist, but the activity of typing helps the brain organize the muscles necessary for writing. See Compact Keyboards and One Handed Keyboards for keyboards that are often used by one-handed typists.
  • Practice for short periods of time (5 to 10 minutes per session) several times a day (minimum of 4 to 6 times). This avoids over-stressing your hand through prolonged sessions and also greatly reduces the level of frustration.
  • Practice gross arm movements first. Using a chalkboard, whiteboard, painting easel, etc. draw or paint the basic line strokes. The brain is better able to produce fine motor movements when it has learned the gross motor equivalents.
  • Start with printing. When we print we use discrete movements to create the characters. These are easier to learn than continuous flow characters (writing).
  • Use a thick pen or pencil, wrapped with foam to start with. This allows the bigger muscles to be trained first. Then you can progress to regular writing implements.
  • Donít overdo it. Give yourself breaks and credit for your accomplishments. The first attempts will look childish and embarrassing. Nevertheless, keep a few examples so that you can refer back to them. Youíll be able to see for yourself that you are progressing.