Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Perseveration in the Workplace


  1. You know, this is a great example of how the word 'perseveration' is often really used derogatorily when spectrum people have them. And your example of the super bowl is perfect; if one doesn't share in the mass-market consumer culture's shared perseveration of sports or crappy reality t.v. shows, then one must be "off".

    When really, the thing that is "off", is the thing that is expanding and using massive amounts of resources and energy that would be better spent elsewhere.

    Congrats to you and thanks for making these video commentaries on the hypocracies in our society.

  2. Bwa ha ha! Sounds like some of the conversations I've had with my husband where he goes on forever about sports. Or the chatty e-mails sent to my workgroup during football season by my manager, who is seriously obsessed with the Green Bay Packers.

    Good one Bev.

    (word verification: coping)

  3. Hi Bev,

    Good video.

    Normally I get your videos first off - they're super-clear - but I have to ask about this one.

    Is the guy with the superbowl fixation supposed to be another aspie with a different special interest?


    Is he simply an NT who has a fixation which is just as annoying to outsiders as the aspie special interest - but everyone seems to think his fixation is acceptable?

    I'm presuming the latter, it makes more sense that way.

  4. hahahah @ "She didn't know a thing about the super bowl either".

    You know as a parent, I perseverate about my son perseverating about hand dryers :o)

    If you wanna see "perseveration" in NTs just grab a parent and ask them about their kid. The one's with the kids on the spectrum are the worst. hehehe

  5. This is great. Thank you for making and sharing it.

    BTW (going off-topic here), I love that you caption the videos. Sometimes I am sound-sensitive and I don't know how I will respond to the sounds occurring in videos. Also, sometimes I can't filter out the words in TV/videos/etc. from background noise, but I am sound-sensitive enough that day that turning up the volume will make me cringe. Captioning means that I don't have to worry about any of that stuff.


  6. this is brilliant! special interests or obsessions only stand out if they are different to the mainstream. in the uk going on forever about football is seen as perfectly acceptable even to people who hate football...

  7. Bev, my husband and I are still laughing ourselves silly over this video. It's brilliant.

  8. Hey Bev,

    I really like your videos! I sometimes show them to people to explain things. They're really helpful and also funny.

    I was wondering though, if you could make some videos which show NTs and autistics getting along in the workplace as opposed to NTs always messing up. Maybe that would help show NTs better ways of treating their autistic coworkers -- they could learn by example.

  9. zeyhna,
    Thanks. I actually have one planned that I think will help fill that void. Look for it here in a couple of weeks.

  10. ROTFLMFAO! That guy going on about the Super Bowl sounds a lot like my brother when he goes on endlessly about sports! This really makes the point about what behaviors are considered normal for which people. Awesome video.

  11. I'd rather talk about parrots, too.

  12. Hey Gavin, for me, the video addressed your second thought which I'll quote:

    Is he simply an NT who has a fixation which is just as annoying to outsiders as the aspie special interest - but everyone seems to think his fixation is acceptable?"

    For me it made a great statement about how the world views as time wasting talk-- and what types of time wasters have 'dignity'.

    It also did a great job of making a more global statement with great humor about the way time wasting is seen differently based on whether you are the talker or the person forced to listen.

    I think I might have had a final frame where he found someone who wanted to talk about the game -- then I'd have had a clock spinning showing the passage of much time... then some final statement about how they could get started on X task but it was late and they were busy.

    What makes time wasting acceptable etc. Great job Bev.. loved it.

  13. Thanks Meg,

    I've got it now. It's like at work when we're trying to have a meeting and people want to talk about sports (which I find crushingly boring) or TV shows (which I generally don't watch).

    They waste half the meeting time on it, then get upset if I take too long (or go into too much detail) on something to do with our computer system which is at least more relevant to them.

    Computers are a special interest of mine, so sometimes I go into more detail than is really necessary - but it's still "on-topic".

  14. Good one. I've come to believe that 'come out of your own little world' just means that people want me to be less interested in bird feet and more interested in football.

    This video makes me want to talk about zygodactyly in parrots and the evolutionary path of parrots and falcons.

  15. I think it would be really cool to learn about the evolutionary path of parrots and falcons. Especially since I'm currently in an animal behavior class where we are learning about the ultimate (evolutionary-based) causes of behavior rather than focusing on proximate (physiologically-based) causes.

    Littlewolf (a little embarrassed that she had to look up zygodactyly to find out exactly what it meant, even though she knew it had to do with digits)

  16. I loved this. Awesome awesome awesome.

  17. In 2008 some DNA test findings were released that showed that falcons are parrots. Or evolved from them, anyway. I don't think they've got any more precise than that, which is very sad because I'd like to know which types of parrots are more recent animals, and where falcons and parrots diverged.

    Some people who nobody listens to have thought that falcons might be parrots long before that. Look at pictures of falcons and parrots and eagles and hawks. Falcons have head shapes like parrots, and their beaks are shorter and more parrot like, they have bare rings 'round their eyes like parrots. Falcons also like to sometimes pick up food with one foot and lift it to their beaks, which parrots do all the time but hawks and eagles never do, and supposedly don't really have the right leg articulation to do. Falcons don't have zygodactyl feet but they don't really quite have normal anisodactyly like other hawks, though -- digit 4 seems to stick straight out to the side instead of forward. Which is funny. Owls have zygodactyl feet (they are my favourite feet in the world, being zygodactyl, and talonned, and furry) but when owls walk on the ground they usually swivel digit 4 so it faces forward anisodactyl-fashion, but parrots don't do that, they walk with two toes back. You would think that falcons would swivel digit 4 forward when walking on the ground because it's got to be a pain having it stick out that way, but I've never seen this happen. Not that I see them walking on the ground much.

    Falcons smell more like parrots of the genus Pionus than they do like hawks. I think that Pionus are the closest relatives of falcons. Pionus fuscus even has facial markings similar to the ones on a lot of falcons.

    1. Wow! I learned something new. And I enjoyed learning about it 10x more than learning about the Super Bowl! hahaha

      I will never see falcons the same now. And I don't mean the Atlanta Falcons!

  18. So falcons = parrots? Cool! Was it mtDNA that they used to do the testing, or another type?

    By falcons 'smelling more' like Pionus, do you mean that the falcon- odor humans smell is more like what we would experience Pionus-smell as, or do you mean that the olfactory sense of falcons is similar to the olfactory sense of Pionus? (Sorry, not trying to be picky about things here--I'm just confused! I'm assuming that the latter explanation is the correct one, as I can't imagine most scientists going around sniffing birds! LOL)



    I meant that humans who sniff falcons and Pionus find that they smell alike. I've smelled tame specimens of both and agree.

  20. Oh, cool. Thanks for the link. :)

    And it was the second explanation after all! I was obviously wrong about smelling birds! That makes me want to try it myself to see (not that I have access to that many tame birds...)

    Thanks again,

  21. I would love to sniff falcons! I used to sniff my budgerigar and later, my sister's cockatiel, all the time. They smelled sweet like the seeds they ate. Oh the joys of burying one's nose in downy puffed-out cheek feathers!!

    Now I bury my nose in my cat's fur and although not bad-smelling, I have to say, he's not as sweet-smelling as the little parrots were. (But don't tell him I said that!)

  22. Good stuff, Bev. Not that anyone could accuse me of perseveration ;)

    One question. If there were an NFL team "the Parrots" would you watch?

    "Patriots" almost sounds like "parrots"...

    OK, I've used up my football knowledge.

  23. Hi Sullivan,

    No, I probably wouldn't watch, but I'd want to check out the uniforms. Would they have feathers? Beaks? Maybe then...

  24. These videos are terrific. I, too, appreciate that you put captions on them, because a lot of times I like to watch videos without sound so that I know what's in them.

    This video makes me feel like I can see both sides, because I have Asperger's syndrome, but one of my "special interests" happens to be football! I love learning about the history of the game, how the helmet designs and uniforms for every team have changed over the years, and I find keeping track of the weekly standings, with all of the complex tiebreakers for playoff seeding, to be incredibly relaxing.

    I have been thankful to have a "perseveration" that happens to fall into one of the typical "small talk" categories, because it gives me a way to talk to people as long as they have some interest in sports. If I know what city they are from or what team they are a fan of, I can talk with them about their team's history.

    But of course, I have trouble going from there to other topics that would really help me to get to know the other person, and if they're not a sports fan at all, it's hard to figure out what to talk about.

  25. Great video, Bev! That conversation between you and the co-worker about parrots really resembled me back in kindergarten! How? I remembered the time when it was just days after my very first cruise and I talked about "Tropicana Lounge" extensively until my teacher tells me to can it! LOL!

  26. I saw a documentary recently that included Ospreys. The normally have three toes in the front, but they can move one toe around to have two front/two back.

    I thought "part time parrot?"

    No curved beak, though.

    See, your videos are educational on many fronts--I remembered the toes thing two months after reading this post.

  27. I love idea behind this vid, but the "NT" superbowl fan's behavior is SO annoying that it almost obscures the point. Superbowl Guy is pushy & disrespectful & generally AWFUL -- I'm a relatively NT person, & neither I nor my relatively NT friends would find him tolerable for even two seconds.

    That said, of course you're right that "some perseverations are [considered] better than others," which sucks, as my autie kid is beginning to find out.

  28. I wanted to hear more about the parrots! Forget the spreadsheet! LOL. Ok, but I got your point, too. :)

  29. Hahahaha "she Did y know a thing about Súper Bowl either" 😆

    Yes, it seems that some "NTs" do perseverate about certain things, and they go on and on and on about them, like the Super Bowl. But they only get annoyed when we perseverate about stuff like parrots. Go figure!

    And bosses writing knee-jerk behavioral plans... ...that's so typical. I really dislike bosses like those. And those are often the first, second and third steps to booting you out of the department or put of your job, because they are no longer inclined to follow "inclusion". If it were up to some bosses, productivity would go down, as long as the workplace were packed with people who used sports metaphors and yakked about the Super Bowl all day. I once worked in a place just like that and I was always on the outs because I didn't do or watch sports.

  30. On-the-other-hand, had it not been for perseveration, we wouldn't have the lightbulb.

  31. Another form of perseveration that has gotten me into trouble is thoroughly investigating something in a laboratory until actually finding a solution when more influential people had written the problem off as unsolvable, thereby upsetting the social balance. Or finding faults during regression testing that I had no idea other more influential people had passed in previous rounds. I was attacked by a group of workers that ganged up on me saying that I was just trying to make them look bad, when all I did was to be thorough until I got to the root cause of a discrepancy or actually discern that a pass/fail criteria was either pass or fail instead of penci-whipping the answer. It shows to go you that even laboratories can be social Hells for some Aspies! (With bullying and all)


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