Blogger Widgets Ender-Chan's Thoughts: I was Forced to Become Right-Handed

Sunday, August 9, 2015

I was Forced to Become Right-Handed

I have seen a fellow autistic blogger liken Lovaas-style ABA to being forced to change your dominant hand or dye your hair a different color. Being told "Quiet hands" over and over again reinforces a lack of autonomy. This is a problem for autistic people who are already vulnerable to mistreatment due to communication difficulties. Many of these people report having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of what they have endured. The change I endured was more subconscious, more subtle. You would have never known I had to endure it if I didn't state it outright.

I was forced to become right-handed. 

You read that correctly. In ancient times, left-handed people sometimes had their hands broken in order to force them into right-handedness. I don't know if my parents knew the therapist would train me out of my original handedness, but they knew it was being done and didn't bother to voice their concerns (if changing my handedness was of any concern to them).

I did not have my left hand broken, amputated, or deformed in any way. It is intact and within a "normal" range of function. Instead, the change came on without physical pain, but with a subconscious reminder of my lack of power. The therapist made me catch a ball with my right hand instead of my left. Eventually, the change became ingrained so deeply my right hand acquired dominance. I was made to do something unnatural so many times it became a habit, and thus, "natural". I didn't scream, cry, or try to resist because I didn't know any better (I was very young at the time, probably 4 or 5 years.). In fact, I maintained the face of being a good little girl so well that the reality of the situation was invisible to untrained eyes.

The analogy above is my literal, bare-bones reality. My current right-handedness will forever serve as a reminder of what other autistic people were (and are) forced to endure. If you are deciding on therapies for an autistic person, who will you listen to? Will you choose to listen to (most likely) neurotypical "experts" trying to sell a method or the autistic people who have experienced these therapies for themselves?

  • Some therapies are called ABA when they are nothing like what I have described. 
  • This is not the same as offering an alternative to a harmful behavior. 
  • Forcing someone out of what is natural for them, regardless of how natural or unnatural it is to you, is not to be done.
    • If they don't appear to have any adverse reactions, it is still wrong, so stop.
    • Cognitive abilities, age, race, size, and functioning level do not matter. If you are forcing someone to be someone they are not in any way, then stop.
  • The illusion of happiness or immediate gratification from these ABA therapies is not true happiness. Sure, the person might enjoy the reward while it lasts, but this has nothing to do with their overview of themselves.


  1. I have been reading about this too. And I have chosen to listen to the real experts, Those who are autistic. I'm also finding out that many autistics prefer to be called autistic rather than "a person with autism" as the so called neurotypical experts have decided is correct. What is your opinion on that?

    1. I like referring to myself as autistic. If I couldn't do that, I might as well be a "person with Christianity" instead of "a Christian".

  2. Oh and incidentally, my mother is not autistic, but she was forced to be right handed too. Apparently, it was the common practice in the 40's for all left handers. It didn't work though. She's still left handed.

    1. I don't know why it worked for me and not for her. Anyway, I think changing someone's handedness is barbaric no matter how it is done. Did your mother ever have any pain inflicted on her for being left-handed?

      Fun Fact: Ehud was left-handed.

    2. I don't think she was ever hurt because of it. They may not have tried very hard to change her handedness, but she did go to a school for children with all kinds of special needs. She had TB when she was little and had a lot of medical issues. My sister is left handed and two of my sons are also.

  3. I was very interested to read this because when I was in elementary school my first grade teacher tried repeatedly to make me write with my right hand. (this was in the 70's) I think it has been in and out of practice for years to attempt to switch children from left to right. I am not Autistic by the way. My son however is. He didn't seem to have a preference for a very very long time and does a lt with both hands...luckily we had therapists who followed his lead and didn't really try to force one way or the other.

    1. Ambidexterity is a hand preference for both hands. I don't understand changing someone's handedness as it does more harm than good.


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