He Had to Choose

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Chances are, if you are a WordPress blogger like myself, you are aware of the daily word prompt of the day.

There are times that I get the word for the day and I immediately think of an event the word prompt has invoked.

Other times I have a post in mind and bend a sentence around the word prompt.

And then, of course, there are other times that I see the word and just walk away.  I got nothing for the word and the word has nothing for me.  Words like tenterhooks, neophyte, patina, panacea

Yep – still no brain sparks for those word prompts.

But today’s word, dominant, well that sparks a story.  A different story than I am used to telling.

This one is about Bobby

I have mentioned before that all my kids have been impulsive.  The boys were way more impulsive than Cate at a young age.

Also, they all have sensory issues and are very sensitive to change in their environment.  One of the hardest notions that Bobby is still dealing with is the idea that I will, one day, go back to work.

And all the kids have had a hard time with transitions.

At one point, Bobby dealt with them the worst.


When Bobby was three years old and Catelyn was one, we moved to our current house.  I stayed at my old job and kept the kids in the daycare near my work.

A year later I was able to locate employment closer to home and changed the kid’s daycare to one closer to our new home.

Bobby had a very hard time with this transition to a new daycare.  He became physically aggressive in the classroom.  His impulsivity exploded.  He’d be taken to the director’s office and get so worked up he would destroy their office throwing paper and computer equipment around.  I was called almost daily to come pick him up and take him home.

Finally, an ultimatum was reached: get him help or he is kicked out.

So, I reached out for help.  For Bobby.  The same county response team that would evaluate Declan two years later came out to evaluate Bobby.

What did they find?

Structured time was good time for Bobby.  He could sit and listen.  He could attend to a task.

Unstructured time was not a good time.  He would need a lot of prompts to keep his hands to himself and to make the right choices when playing.  He was put on a behavior chart.

They found that Bobby could not read emotion on people’s faces.  He had no idea if a person was sad, happy, mad without someone telling him what they were feeling.

And they found Bobby was ambidextrous.  He would use his left hand until he reached his midline – the center of his body.  Then he would switch hands and take over with his right.

So, they met with him weekly.  They gave us flash cards of people’s emotions to learn what different faces meant.  We read stories where Bobby was asked to identify what emotion the person was experiencing.  Eventually, Bobby learned emotions.

He also met with an Occupational Therapist every other week to work on using hands to cross his body.  The OT would have him lay on the ground on his left side and complete a puzzle on the ground with his right hand and vice versa.  Any activity where he was forced to cross his body.

And he was told he had to choose.  Pick a hand.  Right or left.  Which hand did he want to be his dominant hand?

I shrugged.  I thought the whole ambidextrous thing was kind of cool.  Why did he have to choose?


“it is important for a child to develop a dominant hand so that he/she can learn how to efficiently perform tasks involving midline crossing and bilateral integration skills; one hand needs to act as a helper to the dominant hand. For example, when cutting a piece of paper, one hand must hold the paper while the other hand cuts with scissors. Overall, to develop skillful and proficient hand dexterity, coordination, and fine motor control, hand dominance needs to be established.”

So, Bobby chose his right hand.

(I thought he was more of a lefty, to be honest.  Probably because Bobby reminds me of my dad, a lefty as well.  When Bobby came out of the pool snack bar over the summer, munching on the same cinnamon bun my dad loves, I was shocked.  He had never had one before and that is what he chose?  And then chose every other trip after.  And to add – Bobby is also color blind, just like my dad (which trait also probably came from my dad)).

But he chose right and has been a right-hand guy ever since.  Although he still kicks with his left foot.

Bobby went to Kindergarten the next year and was described as an angel by his Kindergarten teacher.  As years went by, the teachers held the same high regards.  There have been phone calls home – he’s had his problems but never in the classroom.  Always during unstructured time.

Overall, things turned out well for Bobby.  Early intervention helped pick up on a few things that we have been able to help Bobby with – so much so they are no longer issues.

And he is righty.  Because he had to choose a dominant hand.


17 thoughts on “He Had to Choose

  1. I like your scissor example. About a decade ago, I got into racquetball. My friend & I would play almost every week and we got pretty good. For our last game of each night, we would switch and play lefty. Hitting the ball wasn’t much of a problem, but I always had trouble with my right hand. I never knew what to do with it. It didn’t know how to offer support. There’s probably all sorts of metaphors in there about leaders and followers.

    1. When they told me why he had to choose, it made sense. I never thought how much my helper hand, helps. Your experience switching hands is a good example.

  2. Makes me wonder if they hadn’t made him choose if he would have adapted his own way, even with the scissors.
    You’ve got an amazing, challenging, wonderful family my friend. I’m so happy to see the glimpses you share with us❣❤💌

    1. I’ve thought that too. What if he had stayed in the original daycare and never had to meet with anyone. Being ambidextrous would have stuck and he would have adapted. One can only wonder how this would have changed things. Thank you so much! I love sharing our worlds 🙂

  3. I found this post really interesting especially the left, right hand thing. I too would have thought that using both would have been a special gift until you explained further. I’m a lefty. I do believe that children/adults with autism have special gifts.

    1. Thank you, Elaine! I felt the same way until they explained it me. I never realized how much my helper hand helps – I guess it is the one I take for granted 🙂 I agree with you 🙂

  4. Loved how the response team found out and you got help. Early intervention works like a charm for some kids and makes all the difference. Thanks for sharing – helps to know some ‘hows’ in addition to specific difficulties.

    1. Thank you! I am thankful too! If we had stayed at the original daycare, he would never had to face a hard transition to meet with Early Intervention. He would still be ambidextrous most likely (and may still be having difficulty reading other’s emotions). Because of EI, though, those struggles are in the past – I am so thankful for the intervention. Thank you for reading! 🙂

  5. I was right-handed all the way till I went to high school. When I started getting the freedom to choose my own coloured pens (and small decisions in life), I started writing with my left hand. I think this whole ambidextrous thing is cool too. I still draw with my left hand when no one is looking or when I am deep in thought. Maybe you can consider carving him a time|space to use whichever hand, e.g. during “creative” / “free” time. 😉

    1. That’s pretty neat! And a good idea – encourage him to use his left hand as his dominant hand in some writing/drawing activities. I would be interested to see if he still could use it as well as he could 7 years ago! Thanks for the idea!

  6. That is really impressive that he was ambidextrous when he was little (just couldn’t cross over his body). Now that he has been living as a righty, if he injures the right hand hopefully switching to the left till the injury heals won’t be as big a problem as it is for everyone else!

    Am a righty myself, but did damage to my right fingers which posed a problem with writing and playing my musical instruments. The only thing your son’s skills would have helped was the writing aspect.

    1. That’s true! I need to check on how strong his left hand is these days – make sure it can be the dominant hand if need be!

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