Social media is abuzz these days with reports of left handedness being announced as a disability. But is left handedness a disability? Or is this just a myth that was propagated in earlier times that has continued to exist? Let’s find out.
There are times when people notice something out of the ordinary and put a tag of “different” on it. For example, as a right-handed person, if you happen to meet a left-handed person, it could be unusual for you.
But if we look at the bigger picture, this might not be so unusual after all. It can be difficult to put a number on how many people are left-handed in this whole world. A global estimate is that 10% of the global population is left-handed.
Recently, there was some fake news that was spread on the internet and social media that claimed that an Act was promulgated giving left handed people disability benefits. The article resonated with a large audience and sparked off a lot of debate on social media.
But how much of this was true? Is left-handedness really a disability? The simple answer to these questions is NO.
Disability is a condition in which an individual is not able to work and function properly due to some kind of physical limitation. This is not at all true for someone who uses their left hand as their dominant hand.
A lefthanded person is more than capable of functioning in their everyday life with their left hand. So there is no reason for them to be categorized as some kind of disability. But there might be a few other aspects of left-handedness that most people fail to understand. Let us find out what they are!
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How does Hand Dominance Develop?
Hand preference is defined as the favoring of one hand for any kind of skilled activity in everyday life. Writing, drawing, eating, holding objects, playing and all other daily activities are done with one hand and a person will use this particular hand for the rest of their life.
This hand is called the “dominant hand”. Hand dominance develops around 2 to 4 years of age. Most children will use both their hands for different activities at this age. From the age of 4 to 6 years, a child starts preferring the use of one hand over the other. This is the age where hand dominance is finally established in an individual.
Is Being Left-Handed a Disability?
Left-handedness is a fairly rare thing when we look at the global numbers. This is why many people have an idea that being left-handed might make them disabled to some extent.
In fact, this is the idea that Mouthwire drew upon and claimed that left-handed people should be allowed to have disability benefits. But this is not an idea to be encouraged.
It is true that left-handed people have to face certain problems to function in regular life. Since the greater population is right-handed, most things are designed to cater to their needs.
This poses a problem for left-handed people, who have to acquire and practice certain things over time. Especially, as left handed people become older, it becomes more difficult to adapt to new technology that continuously keeps getting designed with a right handed bent of mind. However, this still does not make it a disability. It is simply a test of adaptability.
Disability hinders someone from functioning normally even though they might make their best effort to do so. The reservations made for them are social, legal, and institutional. Left-handedness does not qualify for any such reservation.
There is no physical limitation for left-handed people to function for a physical reason. While some skills may have to be acquired by them, they can still work well with their dominant hand.
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Can Left-Handedness Be a Sign of a Learning Disability?
There is an idea that left-handedness may be a sign or can cause some sort of learning disability in children. But this is entirely a myth!
While children who are growing up with or showing signs of learning disabilities may be left-handed, there is no reason to relate the two. Both right and left-handed children may have a learning disability. Hand dominance is a preferred and acquired factor that does not count for any kind of physical or mental disability.
Should You Attempt to Change Your Child’s “Handedness?”
There are a lot of instances where children who prefer their left hand at a young age are discouraged to do so. This might be due to the idea among people that the use of the left hand is an “unusual behavior”.
But this is not the right thing to do. Hand dominance is one of the first personal choices that a child makes and they should have the freedom to do so. Whatever hand they choose to use in regular activities will define the way they will see themselves in the future.
It has been proven that a child should be encouraged to use their dominant as well as the other hand. This has a greater chance of making them ambidextrous as they grow up, meaning they can use both their hand with equal ease.
Problems Associated With Left Handedness
It often happens that left-handed people are considered to be at a global disadvantage. This includes functioning in a normal society, carrying out daily tasks as well as having a healthy and safe life.
Recent studies are indicating that left-handed people might be at a greater disadvantage than ones who are right-handed. Some of these problems may include:
- Greater chances of autoimmune disorders
- Higher risk of mental health problems
- Certain kinds of sleep patterns can be more common in left-handed people
- Higher risk of breast cancer
- Impact on the school performance of children
- Left handed people earn less money
But scientists are always emphasizing the fact that it has never been conclusively proven that left-handedness can cause any kind of biological disadvantage.
Left-handed people, in their daily lives, should be more concerned about the evolution of new kinds of technology and new-age equipment that they will have to get accustomed to. This is because most new forms of daily use objects are created from the perspective of a right-handed population.
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When to Worry About Left Handedness
Every child has the right to grow up and physically develop in a healthy environment. But as a parent, it is important to know when you should be concerned about your child’s development.
So, here are a few things to know if you are concerned about your child using their left hand as the dominant hand:
- If your child is left-handed and showing early signs of learning disabilities
- If your child has some kind of issues in their cognitive behavior or not responding to specific stimuli
- If you notice some kind of developmental delay in your child
- If there are congenital diseases in a child or they have suffered from some sort of traumatic injury at a very early age
The only thing you have to worry about is whether your child is growing up healthily and safely. Their hand dominance should not be a point of concern if your child is a happy, thriving kid.
Frequently Asked Questions
#1. Is being left-handed a form of retardation?
No. Multiple scientific studies have concluded that left-handedness is not any kind of retardation. It is a form of cognitive behavior that develops from a very young age or can be acquired at a later time. Left-handedness is just as normal as a person being able to use both hands.
#2. Do left-handed people qualify for disability?
It is a wrong idea to have that a left-handed person qualifies for any kind of disability reservation. There is no legal definition of left-handedness as a form of disability.
#3. What do left-handers struggle with?
Right handed people often do not recognize that many things are designed to work well only for right handers. Here are a few examples:
Most household equipment have buttons and controls that work better for right handed people
When sitting at a dinner table, lefties have to be careful because they are always touching the elbow of the right handed person next to them
Most public transport facilities are designed with right handed people in mind
Most simple measuring equipment – rulers, tapes, measuring cups etc are designed for right handed people
School desks (the ones that lift up for you to sit down) assume that the child will be right handed.
The QWERTY keyboard works better for right handed people.
A Few Final Words
Left-handedness is more common than we make it out to be. There are a lot of people who have a dominant left hand and live completely normal lives.
What should be noted is that hand dominance is very rarely a point of concern. It is just another feature of nature that humankind functions with.
As a parent, you do not have to try and change their hand preference or make sure that they follow the crowd in every aspect of their life. It is up to the parents to tell their children that their left-handedness is not a disability.
It is not something they should be shamed for or try to extract some form of advantage. As long as one is healthy and functioning well, everyone should be okay with whatever hand the other person is using!
Thank you for reading the article, we hope we covered the topic in depth. If you still have doubts, please leave us a comment and we will get back to you.