Concentrate, Persist, or Maintain Pace

This area of mental functioning refers to the abilities to focus attention on work activities and stay on task at a sustained rate. This article contains key criteria that DDS will assess, tips on gathering information, and examples of functional descriptions.

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NOTE: Beginning January 17, 2017, the name of this functional area was officially changed to “Concentrate, Persist, or Maintain Pace” from “Concentration, Persistence, or Pace.” The content of this area will remain unchanged
Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace refers to the abilities to focus attention on work activities and stay on task at a sustained rate.
 
Aspects of "Concentrate, Persist, or Maintain Pace" can include:
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Dependability; able to sustain a routine and regular attendance without repeated reminders
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Follow-through
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Concentration or attending to a task
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Initiating and performing previously learned tasks
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Completing tasks in a timely manner and at a consistent pace
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Focus on details
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Working a full day without needing more than the allotted number or length of rest periods during the day
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Flexibility and adapting to change
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Working with others without interrupting or distracting them
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Slowness in speech, thought  & movement
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Distractibility; Inability to ignore or avoid distractions while working
How does DDS utilize this information?
DDS evaluates the applicant’s ability to sustain focused attention and concentration sufficiently long to permit the timely and appropriate completion of tasks commonly found in work settings. They are focusing on the applicant’s ability to complete these tasks independently, appropriately, effectively, and on a sustained basis.
 
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SOAR Tip:  DDS will evaluate the amount of extra supervision or assistance the applicant needs to complete a task in accordance with quality and accuracy standards, or at a consistent pace without an unreasonable number and length of rest periods, or without undue interruptions or distractions.
Gathering Information:
Remember that your observations are important!
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Do you frequently need to redirect the applicant back to the conversation or question during interviews? Does the applicant appear to be responding to internal stimuli?
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Does the applicant speak too slowly or take a long time to answer questions?  Or, does the applicant have rapid speech or tangential thought patterns?
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Former employers can be great sources of information about the applicant’s ability to complete tasks and stay focused
Important questions to ask the applicant while you are interviewing them for the MSR include:
  • Have you noticed any changes in your ability to concentrate? If so, what have you noticed?
  • Would you describe yourself as someone who is easily distracted or do you find you can stay focused on a task if you need to?
  • When you work around others, do you find it difficult to complete your tasks or block out the noise and other distractions?
  • Have you had any times in the past when you got into trouble at work due to talking too much with others or not staying on task?
  • What do you enjoy doing? What do you have an opportunity to do? When did you last do this? Are there any changes in what you enjoy now and what you used to enjoy?
  • Do you like to watch TV? If yes, what do you watch? Would you be able to watch an hour-long show and tell me about it shortly after you saw it?
  • Do not ask this if you know the person is unable to read. What do you usually read? Do you do this often? Could you tell me what you just read if I asked you soon after?
  • Ask the person to complete serial 7s (i.e., Subtract 7 from 100, then subtract 7 from that total ... until the person reaches 65). If the person can’t do 7s, ask him or her to try serial 3s. Note what happens.
  • Ask the person to follow a three-step instruction: Take this paper, fold it in half, and please return it to me.
 
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SOAR Tip:  The person must to able to continue doing a task consistently and over time, for as many as eight hours. There are some people who can complete a task but are unable to do so consistently. This also includes the ability to multi-task or increase pace as needed. 
Putting it into Practice: Translating Gathered Information into Functional Descriptions
 
Observations / Information from Records
Applicant Statements
Example Functional Description
Employer reports that Julie’s frequent breaks are distracting to others and her productivity is far behind others
 
Interviews with Julie are short, as she needs frequent breaks
When answering questions during the interview, Julie requests frequent breaks to “step outside for fresh air and calm down.”
Julie is only able to work or maintain concentration in interviews for short periods of time.  She will try to focus, but after about five minutes she becomes very overwhelmed and will need to "step outside for fresh air and calm down."  Julie’s supervisor has noticed a decrease in her productivity and that her need for frequent breaks are becoming disruptive to the rest of the office.
During the session, Ryan repeatedly looked at watch. As questions continued, he appeared agitated and began giving short, one-word answers.
Reports that it takes him multiple tries to leave the house due to checking the windows and doors and that he can’t sleep stating, “I’ve got to make sure that the apartment is secure.”
 
Asked to leave interview, stating, “Someone could have seen me leave my house and are trying to break in and take my things now. I have to go.”
Before leaving home, Ryan checks his doors and windows of his two bedroom apartment repeatedly. He reports that he does not sleep through the night because he has to “make sure that the apartment is secure." Ryan is so preoccupied with making sure that his apartment is secure that he has a difficult time concentrating on anything else.  At our interview, Ryan repeatedly looked at his watch and appeared agitated. After ten minutes, he eventually asked to end the session stating, "Someone could have seen me leave my house and are trying to break in and take my things now. I have to go."
Spoke with previous employer, who described that when Joachim was expected to do a 20-minute oil change,  "Joachim would work for 10 minutes or so, get confused and have to start over again. It took him almost two hours to do a simple oil change, and he wasted so many supplies! Eventually, I had to let him go."
When asked why he left his job as a mechanic, Joachim answered, “I couldn’t concentrate because people were whispering about me.” “I’m always afraid and sometimes I’m terrified. The whole crew tried to make me look bad so they could give my job to some friend of theirs.”
While working as a mechanic at age 24, Joachim became increasingly paranoid and depressed and began to hear voices. “I couldn’t concentrate because people were whispering about me.” “I’m always afraid and sometimes I’m terrified. The whole crew tried to make me look bad so they could give my job to some friend of theirs.” As a result of his symptoms, it became difficult for him to complete tasks at work. His supervisor described one time when he was expected to do an oil change, a job that should take 20 minutes. "Joachim would work for 10 minutes or so, get confused and have to start over again. It took him almost two hours to do a simple oil change, and he wasted so many supplies! Eventually, I had to let him go."