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Dressing with Weak Hands or One (1) Hand

If your child has one (1) hand or weak hands, they can have problems dressing themselves. They can learn new ways to dress using helpful tools. Your child may work with an occupational therapy provider to learn new ways to do daily tasks. Dressing can help your child be more independent and develop skills like others their age. The more they practice dressing, the easier it will be.

Help with dressing

Here are some tips that can help your child dress with weak hands or one hand:

  • They can dress their weaker side first. For example, if your child’s left arm is weak, they can put the left arm into the sleeve of a shirt first. Next, they can put their right arm in the shirt and pull it over their head.
  • When undressing, they can remove clothing from their stronger side first.
  • Your child can wear pullover shirts, pants with elastic waistbands, slip-on shoes, and Velcro fasteners.
  • To tie their shoes, your child can use elastic shoelaces or shoes with Velcro fasteners. They can also learn how to tie their shoes with one hand (see One-handed Shoe Tying at

To see more dressing tips for teens and young adults with one hand, see “Occupational Therapy One Handed Dressing Techniques” at

Learn ways to make dressing easier

Your child can learn new ways to dress and wear clothes like pullover shirts to make dressing easier.

How to use a button hook

Your child can use a button hook to help dress. Here is how to use one:

  1. Slip the long silver metal piece at the end of the handle into the buttonhole from the front side of the shirt.
  2. Once the metal piece is through the hole, slip the button into the open part of the metal piece.
  3. Hold the edge of the fabric with the buttonhole in your hand while pulling the metal piece back through the buttonhole.
  4. After the button and metal piece pass through the hole, slip the metal piece off the button.
  5. Your child can button up all the buttons on a shirt or jacket except a few at the top. They can slip the clothing on and off over their head.

Watch the video “How to Button a Shirt with One Hand- A Button Hook and How to Use it” from Adaptive Equipment Corner.

How to use a zipper pull

To zip jackets, your child can use a zipper pull. Follow these steps:

  1. Insert the hook into the hole in the pull tab of the zipper. Leave it there.
  2. Put the finger or thumb through the ring to pull the zipper open or closed.
  3. Put zipper pulls on items with zippers that your child uses often.

Key Points

  • If your child has only one hand or weak hands, they may have problems with daily tasks such as dressing.
  • Your child can learn new ways to dress themselves.
  • Tools such as button hooks and zipper pulls can help their daily function.
  • Dressing becomes easier if your child practices using tools and adaptive techniques.


If you have more questions about how to help your child do self-care, contact an occupational therapy provider or your doctor.

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Reviewed: September 2022