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This is How We Do It…Processing

Understanding your Processing Modality Equates to Productivity in both the Neurotypical and Neurodiverse

Disclaimer: This was written for my coaching certification, this is not legal, financial, investment, or other advice. Any coaching done is highly individualized. This article is for educational purposes only. Each of the sources is footnoted below, I welcome comments. Jb@lulaco.io

Photo Taken from Unsplash and edited with Adobe Spark (2016)

What Does Processing Have to Do With It?

What Does Processing Have to Do With It? A fundamental philosophy of Lula & CO. is that we empower any age or stage of learning. Currently, there are some amazing resources available to assist in maximizing your knowledge acquisition, but, without understanding your processing style, it can be tough to know which one of these will work best to maximize your personal learning. [24] Each industry or niche has its coordinating favorites. For example, in the study of law, Cali is perfect. [1] It offers vetted resources for any field of law and nearly any processing modality. But, what if you are not a law student? Have no fear! There are oodles of tools available, such as KenHub for A&P and Premed/Med, and interactive textbooks for biochemistry.

Processing Personally Optimized: Learning & Cognition

Before I can assist clients in maximizing their efficiency of learning, I invite them to take the ACTIVV inventory, because it helps tease apart the nuances in processing modalities, which differ from learning styles. [28] It is a paid service, which costs $10.00. I do not have an affiliate link, nor do I receive any ‘cut’ of what you pay. I simply find it valuable intel. I like this inventory with one caveat, processing styles vary across environments. Therefore, whatever area you want to understand, you need to answer the questions with this environment in mind. Otherwise, the results may not be entirely helpful. ACKTIVV.com. [28] I learned about this valuable resource through my coaching coursework with the ADD Coach Academy. [3]

Wait… A Bit More on Processing to Get the Most Optimal Results

Don’t stop reading and take the inventory just yet! Even without a full understanding of your processing style, there are some simple strategies that assist in understanding the method behind your own madness, otherwise known as learning and cognition. Understanding these or wondering about alternatives will place you in the best state of mind to take the inventory and obtain accurate results to meet your specific objective.

In a previous article, I discussed how Cali Law coloring assists in higher thought processes. I highly recommend their coloring book Images of the Law, “Each image within this CALI Coloring Book has a short description of the legal concept illustrated by the artwork and a URL where you can find the CALI Lesson it comes from.” [2] A free resource for most law schools, yet I usually am typically the one that tells my professors and peers about it Therefore, I call it the unsung hero of legal education. The point being, there are other unsung heroes out there, that your colleagues may know well, just ask, or message me. I can help you find the right resource. By thinking of your ideal tool, you are already on your way to understanding your learning style more fully. Two questions that may assist in discerning what your processing modalities:

  1. What you find relaxing or assists you in achieving mindfulness, and
  2. How you prefer to take notes if you are afforded any medium.

Color Me Clear & Cognitively Coherent: Mindfulness

Um… Okay… But Coloring?

YES!!!! I may be a bit bias, I own that fact, but 10 years in a Kindergarten classroom has given me rose-colored glasses so as to speak. The old saying is true. All I Really Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten. [4] This was the closing statement that my former principal used to persuade me to leave the long-term-sub position and take the newly formed teaching position. Truth be told, she had me at the word Kindergarten. True to my roots in early childhood, teaching Kindergarten allowed me to see the value in this phrase firsthand, reflect upon educational reform and the rigor that is demanded, and create my own thoughts and research on best practices that I had studied throughout grad school.

Coloring is the New Black

Both the Huffington Post & CNN report color is all the rage in cognition. [5] [6] Yet, the amount of credence given to this is hotly debated. A trend that dates back to the notable Carl Jung, a mind ahead of his time. Jung has resurfaced with the rise of mindfulness and was first to tap into the coloring coup d’etat. Id.

Research subsequently corroborated the benefits of both coloring & mindfulness. Since both calm the limbic system’s aggressor, the amygdala, they both assist in same. When your limbic system and prefrontal cortex (PFC) oppose each other, quieting this bossy structure makes higher thought processes easier. When these structures are in sync with one another, you have a greater capacity for emotional intelligence or EQ. [7]

According to the CNN article, Why Adult Coloring Books Are Good For You and extending on the act of mindfulness state, colored pencils offer the precision [some] mindfulness followers seek. [7] Those that have a tactile processing preference, (many times these people are called pen snobs) will have distinct rules about what width/point is the perfect pressure reliever. [7] [2] [3]

The article elaborates on the efficacy by explaining the more you allow yourself to get lost in the repetition, the better your brain will be able to reduce stress. With wet brush pens, gel, calligraphy, markers, ballpoint, fountain, fine, superfine, wide, and really, really, superlatively fine (clearly, that is my own made up one.) There is a perfect choice for everyone. This is particularly true of tactile learners. These learners brain’s take in information more readily through pressure feedback. To oversimplify this concept, consider a snow tube or water sport innertube, you can huff and puff as much as the big bad wolf, but the air may not get in unless you squeeze the release valve in a meaningful way to accommodate. When I work with my clients to understand their productivity challenges, most had never considered this prior.

What Does the Science Say?

I love to hear what works for my clients (Many times this also feeds into their strengths, but we will take this one part at a time.) As with any new trend, the experts are conflicted on the actual benefit of coloring. There are studies that show a reduction in stress through Art Therapy in Cancer Patients an RCT (Randomized Control Trial) Study of Psychooncology (2006), but is this a mind over matter concept, and even if it is, isn’t that what mindfulness is? [7] To offer a bit more light, according to the Cleveland Clinic, Scott M. Bea, Psy.D.,

…it has everything to do with refocusing our attention. “Adult coloring requires modest attention focused outside of self-awareness. It is a simple activity that takes us outside ourselves. In the same way, cutting the lawn, knitting, or taking a Sunday drive can all be relaxing.A simple act, such as coloring, takes your attention away from yourself and onto the present-moment event. “In this way, it is very much like a meditative exercise,” [8]

I wonder if Crayola will come out with some snazzy new names for their mindfulness colors. For example, in law, yellow could be Jaundice & Justice, or green could be the Tortoise of Torts. Perhaps that would make me more inclined to use color outside of my typical ROY G. BIV method. Coloring does not only lead to increased mindfulness, but it is also a great way to process.

Revelations Reverberating

I am thinking of that great OG, R & B song, This is How We Do it, by Montell Jordan. If you are familiar with my articles, you know that each paper in Grad School was entitled with a song as its umbrella theme. [9] It was not only catchy, but I am also a multi-modal processor, or as I call it audio+ processor. While I thought it was creative branding in Grad School, I now realize that I used this as a method to understand and apply the theory of study, which allowed me to digest information more efficiently.

Here is one more strategy that I have shared with many audio processors. If I am having a hard time getting into my zen state of flow, many times, I will pick a song that I have in my head, and stick in on repeat. I hear the lyrics and am off-task the first one or two times, then, voila, this triggers my brain into the state of flow. I can greatly increase if not crush my personal productivity with this trick. (This is only when I do not have my computer reading to me though.) Too much sensory input will stop all progress.

Color Me Productive-Recapping

It is hard to carve out time with the increasing demands of postgraduate work and or studies to meditate, be mindful, let alone color, (and in some cases, even shower). However, if you are a busy law, professional, pre-med student, or a busy entrepreneur taking on the world, we have resources for you to kill two birds with one stone.

Multi-modal/Multi-faceted Learning

Voila, meet productive coloring & multi-modal/multi-faceted Learning! A revolution. For the law student, CALI.org is your go-to resource. [1] For medicine, pre-med, nursing, or other biological sciences, KenHub & Pearson’s Interactive Labs are your tickets. [10]

As far as showering goes, notes with Mr. Bubbles foaming soap, Crayola shower gel, paint, shaving cream or foggy mirrors, are all perfect for redrawing notes while prepping for your day. [11] These also work well for younger students to practice their spelling and vocabulary words in the tub. If you are a parent, then you know this is an epic win, hygiene + academics, score!

Windows- ‘A Whole New World [of Processing]’

If you have a bit of time in between, there are some other great tactile or kinesthetic methods that may work for you. I painted all of my patio windows with mechanisms in organic chemistry and hoarded a whiteboard like it was my red stapler from office space in the library with whiteboard markers. (So did nearly every ochem/premed/prepa student.)

The muscle memory in drawing out processes is great for the kinesthetic learner.

Another nuance to consider regarding processing depends on the subject matter. [28] For example, in Organic Chemistry, I needed the muscle memory of a kinesthetic processor to get these tricky mechanisms into my brain. This is why it is important for you to think carefully about the one aspect that you want to understand with clarity when taking the inventory. I have three different processing styles for three different tasks. [28]

The Trifecta- Assistive Technology, Processing Modalities, & Accommodations:

1. Ochem mechanisms; 2. Case law, research for a hypothetical on Anti-Smoking Policy was drawn out. Kelly v. Johnson; Roe v. Wade; and others, while listening to Voice Dream read the cases, then going over the briefs. For me, It helps to color code the pieces, that is my audio+ modality shining through. 3 Iterations of ochem to memorize, muscle memory, was critical in this domain.

Drawing the mechanism out on my windows, while my instructor drew it out recorded through my accommodation plan, on my student computer w/ADA software found in same assisted greatly.

These accommodations can be easily spelled out in an accommodation plan/IEP/504 under the coordinating laws. In higher education, Title II of the ADA (Public) 29 U.S.C. 794 [16]; Title III of the ADA (Private) for any entity that receives Federal Financial Aid or other Federal Funds] [15]. This sister law for those in PK-12, section 504 Vocational Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 701 [13] implemented under 34 CFR 104 [12] or if found eligible for Special Education and PK-12, the Individuals with Disabilities Act of the IDEA, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et. seq. [14]

**Please note, this is not legal advice; I coach and mediate for special education students or employees in need of accommodations. I do not litigate. If you have litigation concerns, please consult an Attorney.

Visual Processors may also be big picture learners. They may not be able to see how the details integrate without an overview that is more in-depth than a paragraph; this can be seen in students with Dyslexia and other neurodiverse students. Outlines and note takers are also accommodations that are available for an accommodation plan. The image on the right demonstrates how repetition can be helpful and the same can be done in the tub or mirror while listening to a lecture.

Audio Processors may find reading the textbook, then playing that loudly while showering, or running, or taking notes or simply drawing out structures and diagrams as seen above. Since running requires a lot more oxygen to the brain, it is a way to diversify the monotonous. I personally enjoy my treadmill desk, but that is beyond the scope here.

Voice Dream, an app in the app store, which reads any pdf to you, in any desired speed, which is great if your topic is snoringly boring, or the AI read can read it quickly if this is your third plus time through. [17] Voice dream also integrates easily with Booksource, a phenomenal tool. This is a tool that needs a letter from your School, College, or University.[18] To mimic this without the app, turn the ‘speak’ prompt on, on iPhone. I have shown this to friends and colleagues alike. They are each amazed at what their iphone can accomplish. Voice dream also has a sister app named Voice Dream Writer. [19]

ADD in Focus: Mindfulness + ADD/Neurodiverse

Mindfulness & Quieting the Amygdala are Important for ADDers. But like any skill, this too must be practiced. It is not innate since slowing down is not part of the ADD vocabulary. [3] There are ample benefits of coloring to practice calming mindfulness, from lateralization (when the right and left hemispheres need to communicate) to allowing greater cognitive abilities that will assist in tackling the endless case law, research, or other neuro-intensive tasks of the day.

As evidenced above, mindfulness is foundational for everyone, but this task is particularly important for those neurodiverse colleagues. I practice mindfulness or at least attempt to do so, while running, something I love, but is quite a humorous sight. This coordination or lack thereof echos some interesting research on the Cerebellum [20]

Taken from Youtu.be, https://youtu.be/E_0Ta_DIWuU [22]

While neither running, nor mindfulness are easy feats, when I am running I have been told I look similar to Phoebe from Friends or Elf, which makes me giggle. [22] Laughter is another way to reduce stress. See the Mayo Clinic article [23] Mindfulness can be achieved through a variety of ways. There is no one perfect way per se to practice the skill.

There is An App for That

Thank goodness there are multiple apps and services that offer support in fun innovative ways. Most recently my daughter and I have discovered Breathe, and Go Noodle. [21] [25] But there are multiple apps for both iphone and iwatch, which I have used in my quest for the balance between states of zen & flow.

The act of being fully present is a particular battle for those with ADD, and I see the dualism this causes. On one hand, the ADD brain is busy attempting to stay focused and engaged, therefore, many times we forget to state the basics of our thought process because our brain is already on problem number 3 while the neurotypical human is still hashing out problem number 1. On the other hand, it is important to rest and rejuvenate the mind through mindfulness. The beauty of ADD lies in common talents, enormous creativity, passion, and motivation; but like anything, there is a cost-benefit relationship that must be monitored, this is where I have seen the greatest impact of the coaching from the ADD Coach Academy, what is coined the ‘power of the pause.’ [3]

Mindfulness & Productivity Are in the [Third] Eye of the Beholder

Another facet to consider with ADDers is that it also may not look like the typical ‘mindfulness’ meditating still and quiet and forcing an ADDer to practice in this fashion will lead to angst. It is important to work up to a goal, even in mindfulness, my meditation goals of sitting still and meditating, are far less than the non-ADDers. The majority of experts agree you can’t just go binge on yoga or ‘mindfulness, that would be absurd.

Mindfulness is in the (third) eye of the beholder. Keep in mind that while it seems so zen to many, for those with ADD it is daunting to sit still, much less sit still and quiet.

Mindfulness is in the (third) eye of the beholder. Keep in mind that while it seems so zen to many, for those with ADD it is daunting to sit still, much less sit still and quiet. Enjoying time with my daughter is one key to my pause. [26] I find great zen in simply listening to her retell her days and adventures, it is very much like “The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash,” I also find videos of her to be equally as centering when she is not with me, or I have not heard from her in a while. [29] Currently, this little writer is working on some music videos for Minecraft that are both creative and educational. Her creativity is one way she practices the art of zen. [26] [[27] This is only the tip of the iceberg in assistive technology, mindfulness, and productivity. There are more processing styles and apps.

Do you have a favorite? I would love to hear what you find helpful.

Resources Consulted

[1] Cali https://www.cali.org/

[2] https://www.cali.org/CALI_Coloring_Book

[3] ADDCA.com

[4] Fulgham, R. All I really Needed to Learn, I Learned in Kindergarten. [Taken from] https://www.amazon.com/Really-Need-Know-Learned-Kindergarten/

[5] 7 Reasons Adult Coloring Books Are Great for Your Mental, Emotional and Intellectual Health. (2015). HuffPost. Retrieved 6 May 2017, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-nikki-martinez-psyd-lcpc/7-reasons-adult-coloring-books-are-great-for-your-mental-emotional-and-intellectual-health_b_8626136.html

[6] Kelly Fitzpatrick, D. (2017). Why adult coloring books are good for you. CNN. Retrieved 6 June 2017, from https://www.cnn.com/2016/01/06/health/adult-coloring-books-popularity-mental-health/

[7] Monti DA, e. (2017). A randomized, controlled trial of mindfulness-based art therapy (MBAT) for women with cancer. — PubMed — NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 6 June 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/162

[8] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/staff/2070

[9] This is How We Do It. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hiUuL5uTKc

[10] https://www.kenhub.com/en/library/learning-strategies/how-to-learn-anatomy-with-a-coloring-book

[11] https://www.amazon.com/Crayola-Bathtub-Markers/product-reviews/B0012PYREW

[12] 34 CFR 104

[13] 29 U.S.C. § 701

[14] 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et. seq.

[15] 29 U.S.C. 794

“Title II applies to State and local government entities, and, in subtitle A, protects qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of disability in services, programs, and activities provided by State and local government entities.

“Title II extends the prohibition on discrimination established by section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.C. 794, to all activities of State and local governments regardless of whether these entities receive Federal financial assistance.”

[16] https://www.ada.gov/ada_title_III.htm

“Title III prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities of places of public accommodations (businesses that are generally open to the public and that fall into one of 12 categories listed in the ADA, such as restaurants, movie theaters, schools, day care facilities, recreation facilities, and doctors’ offices) and requires newly constructed or altered places of public accommodation — as well as commercial facilities (privately owned, nonresidential facilities such as factories, warehouses, or office buildings) — to comply with the ADA Standards.”

[17] Voice Dream. voicedream.com

[18] Booksource.org

[19] http://www.voicedream.com/writer/

[20] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4811332/

[21] Breathe for iOS. (2017). Breatheapp.co. Retrieved 6 June 2017, from http://breatheapp.co/

[22] Friends. https://youtu.be/E_0Ta_DIWuU

[23] https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456

[24]Lulu & Co.Aching, What is a Coach. https://vimeo.com/233333617

[25] Go Noodle. https://vimeo.com/331471153

[26] Welcome to Chicago. https://vimeo.com/331477181

[27]Welcome to New York. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ae8_-GTf3UY

[28] Processing Modalities Inventory. Acktivv.com

[29]The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76xzBWjS2dg&feature=youtu.be

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Jenny Balliet

Frmr. Dir. of Presentations, Athena.Trade | E Media Group | Educator|ADD/ADHD Coach |M.Ed. |Writer | MLAW |Founder of MinED & Lula & CO|Mom (14yo Gmer./Writer)