My 3-year-old is playing a game on his leap pad as he switches between his right and left hand with grace. And he’s perfectly positioned the stylis between his fingers. I didn’t teach him that. Yet ambidexterity is something I’d suspected since he was about one year old.
Let me regress briefly to a devastating moment. When he was about 11 months old, he grabbed my curling iron with his right (dominant) hand and burned it. I didn’t even know he was in the same room with me until I heard him scream. At the ER, he was bandaged up and sent home. The following week, he favored his left hand during meal and play times. He’s been switching back and forth between hands ever since.
But I never saw ambidexterity as clearly as I do now. I have mixed feelings of guilt and awe as I watch him eloquently draw with both hands.
After a bit of research I learned two things: Those who are ambidextrous can be successful in tasks that require both hands such as playing a keyboard (cool, he loves music) and performing surgery (wow!). Then I read something else that brought me down to earth with a thud. They are also at risk of cognitive disorders because their brains are too symmetrical.
Ambidexterity in Children
Kids who are ambidexterous are symetrical on both sides of the brain. If they are too symmetrical then they may have cognitive problems such as ADHD. It isn’t the fact that ambidexterity causes ADHD, but how how the brain works in relation to ambidexterity. The brain working symetrically has its problems and causes ADHD.
I also learned that left-handed people become ambidextrous to adapt to living in a right-handed world. And right-handed people learn to use both hands after an injury to their right arm or hand (like a burn, ugh). Only about one in 100 people are born with ambidexterity.