Is your child right-handed and left-footed? Learn how mixed dominance can lead to developmental delay.
Mixed dominance or cross laterality happens when a person doesn't favor the same side of the body for a dominant hand, foot, eye and ear. Some parents notice that their children with developmental delays may not have a dominant hand when completing all activities. For example, these children may write with their left hand, but use scissors with their right hand. This lack of a dominant hand or dominant side increases the chance that a child may also have a processing disorder, ADHD or other difficulty that makes learning more challenging later in life.
What's the Link Between Mixed Dominance and Developmental Delays?
Developmental delays are often the first sign that children may have learning or attention problems when they are older. These delays, combined with evidence of mixed-dominance, greatly increase the chance that the child will develop a learning disability or disorder. However, even if a child experiences developmental delays and mixed-handedness, he may not be formally diagnosed with a learning disability until he enters school and begins to have problems in the classroom.
A 2010 study published in Pediatrics found that ambidextrous children were more likely to have ADHD and language learning difficulties when compared to their left-handed and right-handed peers. Mixed-dominant children were also more likely to have more severe forms of ADHD when compared to right-handed children with ADHD. The study's authors also noted that previous studies indicate that mixed-handed children are also more likely to have dyslexia.
How the Brain Causes Mixed Dominance
Children who demonstrate cross laterality are likely to have brains that are imbalanced and not developing properly. If a child does not display the same dominant side when it comes to using their hand, foot, eye, and ear, it's likely due to what we call functional disconnection syndrome. A properly functioning brain communicates between both hemispheres, as well as within each hemisphere, at lightning speed. In the case of mixed dominance, brain speed is slowed due to miscommunication in the brain or a longer processing time. For example, if the dominant eye and ear are on opposite sides, vision circuits have to jump to the other side of the brain to connect to the listening circuits and can explain why some people can't read and listen at the same time.
Challenges Associated with Mixed Dominance
Children who don't develop adequate brain dominance when completing tasks—called brain lateralization—may find that they have difficulty developing certain skills. A lack of left hemisphere development could lead to delays in mastering vocabulary, grammar and language fluency. A lack of right hemisphere development may cause problems with reading and metaphor.
Parents who notice that their children are experiencing developmental delays and show signs of mixed dominance should be on the lookout for early symptoms of other challenges. Our co-founder, Dr. Robert Melillo, offers a mixed dominance assessment on page 138 of his book "Disconnected Kids." By correctly identifying these complications, parents can quickly assemble the right mixture of resources and professional help to aid their children in overcoming learning difficulties without falling behind their peer group. In fact, The Brain Balance Program® has helped to reinstate natural dominance in children with a mixed-dominance profile.
To schedule an assessment for your child, or to learn more about how the Brain Balance Program can help your child reach their full potential, contact us online or find a center near you.