Should You Pay Attention if Your Child is Left-Handed?

By Jill Carstens

Yes! There is a variety of reasons you should pay attention if your child ends up being left-handed. 

My own son grew very naturally into his left-handedness, and due to the fact that he was always such a smart and capable child I never looked into how, even in current times, this could pose as a challenge for him. Unfortunately, we still have not completely adapted for folks who are left-handed. Most of the world is set up for the right-handed. 

Not receiving support from his early teachers (or me, in my ignorance), my son shared with me after he was older that he adapted to form his letters as best he could by contorting his hand. Handwriting was presented to him only from the right-handed perspective. His pen would smear as he wrote across a page. No wonder he relished the idea of using a keyboard.

Here are some other challenges:

Scissors and many kitchen utensils like can openers and vegetable scrapers are made for the blade to only work if you are right-handed. Notebooks, desks, computer mouses and other school materials are also made for right-handers.

Ten percent of the population is believed to be left-handed. In a 2018 episode of the public television show NOVA, Patricia Cowell, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, pointed out that the existence of left-handers helps to explore the different ways the brain organizes itself under different circumstances.

“If someone is left-handed, their brain organization is going to be different than someone [who] is right-handed,” she points out.

It has been argued that the recessive gene, which causes left-handedness, persists because it is cognitively advantageous. A 2022 Psychology Today article reported an excess of gifted children among individuals who are left-handed, higher scores on verbal-reasoning tests being one indication. It has been found that left-handers often exhibit good skills in communicating through language, and many of them are very creative people. Famous left-handers include Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Leonardo da Vinci, Jimi Hendrix, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Martina Navratilova, Bill Gates and Babe Ruth.

I almost wonder if these left-handers were exceptional because of the need to overcome the obstacles in their environment due to their handedness; they developed character, grit and resourcefulness! Developmental psychologist Jane M. Healy, Ph.D., asserts in her book “Different Learners” that because a dominant left hand results in more back and forth between the hemispheres of the brain, these folks have more communication between these two sections, which can result in enhanced creative thinking. 

Growing research into left-handedness has also found that a higher percentage of people with other neuro diversities such as ADHD or autism are left-handed. This is not a call to assume if you or your child are left-handed that you will develop one of these other challenges, but we need to use this information as a tool. If your child shows signs of a spectrum disorder, left-handedness can be part of the equation in assessing the condition and determining a path forward.

The important thing to be aware of one way or the other is that lefties need support, especially when they are young and beginning to use the materials that will help them to succeed in school. 

Shopping outlets like The Left Handed Store specialize in everything you could think of for left-handers, including items for cooking, sports, musical instruments and gardening.

Jill Carstens taught for 30 years and now enjoys writing for this publication. You can view more of her writing on Instagram @lettersfrommissjill. Email her with comments or story ideas at

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