Saturday, July 3, 2010

Memory: My favorite word, perseveration

I just like the way the word perseverates feels on my tongue. Plus, it throws a curve ball to many people because they have never heard of the word. That said, perseveration is a frustrating trait to deal with in the classroom or in life, but what is is exactly.

If you think about the word "persevere", in general, that is a positive trait especially in the face of adversity. However, to perseverate is seen fairly negatively even though it also means persevere. Usually I describe it as "stuck in a groove". For those people who understand playing records with, once a needle gets stuck in a groove, you hear the same thing over and over and over. Generally, there is some neurological problem in the brain which causes people to perseverate. People with brain injuries, autism, and schizophrenia can perseverate.

If you do not understand what is going on, perseveration can be very annoying. Actually, even if you do understand, it can still be annoying. It takes patience to tolerate the repetition. You start motioning with your hands and thinking, "OK, get on with it already." One way I deal with this is to imagine how frustrating it is to be that other person. She/he has something to say, but cannot get beyond the first thought. Cannot communicate clearly. As the perseveration continues, they don't let others speak and so hog the conversation with... nothing really because their speech does not take them anywhere. This is frustrating to both speaker and listener.

What to do? When you can get a word in edgewise, you can do one of two things. Either repeat what they have said and ask "what comes next?" With the record, you have to lift the needle and carefully drop it onto the next track

or redirect the conversation to a different topic. The latter can be difficult though because the perseverator may take you back to the original topic. Once stuck it is hard to become unstuck and eventually the only thing to do is to choose a new record to play.

My source for this blog recommends simple, routine jobs that are easy to learn. I am not sure that I totally agree with this. Often people with neurological problems often are surprisingly intelligent and simple jobs can be boring and unfulfilling. That said, for perseveraters who love structure and repetition, there are many jobs which may be boring for most, that may provide a calming hum.

Requires job setting which is flexible and allows extended practice.
Simulate job away from site before going to job

Arrange for client/student to practice after hours

Decrease the number of tasks

Color code steps to follow

Place in occupational job training

If you want to learn more, visit these sites.

Project Learnet: Perseveration

Special needs education: Strategies for students who perseverate

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