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Few elementary school teachers have not had to deal with students struggling with a variety of “dys”: dyslexia, dyspraxia, dysgraphia, etc.

One such teacher decided to allow one of her students, a struggling left-hander both in terms of hand use and general orientation, to write all of his poetry assignments for the year in his opening direction from right-to-left on tracing paper. The student’s drawings for each poem were glued opposite on the right-hand page. Little by little, his mood began to improve.

Contrary to what one might think, this has helped the student be more socially integrated. He is invested in his dominant space, and can affirm his identity as a left-hander while at the same time allowing right-handers and those around him to adapt to (right-handers can turn over the tracing paper to read the writing in the conventional left-to-right direction) what he was in the process of becoming: a left-hander set right!

Last year, a 17-year old carpenter-in-training came to see me just five months before he had to pass his professional certification exams. He wanted to address the following concerns:

• Left-handedness,

• Reading and writing slowly,

• Cognitive difficulties (concentration, comprehension, memorization, reformulation of ideas, etc.) especially in French, technology and workshop classes,

• Stress, apprehension, anxiety, lack of self-confidence, etc. Imagine how surprised David’s French teacher was when he turned in a homework assignment written on tracing paper:

“Ah! It’s a bit odd, but as long as you’ve done the exercises and I can read and correct them (meaning when the tracing paper is turned over to be read from left-to-right) – that’s the main thing that matters.”

In addition, David found writing class notes on tracing paper to be much more comfortable: “It has allowed me to better understand the content and memorize facts easier. In fact, reading my notes from right to left really helps a lot. Over all, I fee surer of myself and more self-confident.”

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