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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 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.
  • 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.