News: autistic adults

Take a Chill Pill: How to Calm the Frustration of Parenting

By Dallas Stevens

"I've been working hard not to yell at my kids. But sometimes I just can't help it. I explode, and then I feel so guilty. I know it isn't really what my kids are doing, it's just me, having a hard day. Is it really possible to stop yelling? What's the secret?" - Natalie 

Repost from Aha! Parenting.

The secret for how to parent calmly is compassion.

For your child, of course, but start with compassion for yourself. You can't be emotionally generous when you're stressed, running on empty, feeling like you aren't good enough. Once you feel a bit less tense, you'll think better, and you'll be able to reach out to your child in a more relaxed way to turn around whatever is happening. Without yelling.

So when you notice that you're feeling irritable and need to practice your parenting patience, no shame, no blame. That's just part of being human. We all have hard days. Think of your irritation as a red blinking light on your car dashboard. When you notice it, you:

a) Redouble your efforts to control your child's behavior, even if it’s giving you a headache and making you yell.

b) Flog yourself for not being good enough.

c) Pull out the wire so it stops blinking, and go have a drink.  (This is like just swallowing those upset feelings.)

d) Say thank you for the signal, and use the opportunity to check in: What could you do right now to return yourself to a state of well-being, so you can be emotionally generous to your child? 

Not surprisingly, the best answer is D. That irritation you feel is a message that it's time for preventive maintenance. If you don't do some immediate self-care, you're likely to end up in the breakdown lane, exploding at your children. 

So on those hard days, as soon as you notice that you're feeling irritable:

1. Stop. Drop (whatever is going on.) Breathe. Remind yourself that there's no real emergency. Take a few deep breaths. That moves you back into the present moment, so you won't get hijacked by your big emotions. Now you have the choice of how to proceed.

2. Resist acting while you're angry. You'll feel an urgent need to act, but that's just an indication that you're in fight or flight. (It's your signal, like the blinking light.) If your child is acting out and creating parenting challenges, set whatever limits you need to, as patiently as possible. But resist the urge to discipline. Any lesson you need to teach will be better taught later, when you're calm and have honed your parenting patience. Kids can't learn when they're upset, and if you're upset, they'll be upset. The most important lesson you can teach your child at this moment is self-regulation, and you do that by modeling.

Every time your frontal cortex overrides your emotional upset, you're rewiring your brain, so it gets easier to regulate yourself. And every time you tolerate upsetting feelings, accepting them without taking action, you're working through old unfinished emotional business, so you don't get triggered as often. That creates less drama, and more love.

3. Summon up all your compassion and give yourself the nurturing you need. We tend to think we have to wait for someone outside of us to take care of us. But parenting our children requires that we learn to parent ourselves. The loving parent you need in those tough moments is inside you. Growing up means taking the responsibility to nurture ourselves, so we can act like a grown-up when our children act childish. So give yourself a hug (literally.) 

Ask: What could you do right now to return yourself to a state of love and well-being? Just do it. If you need a big change -- more sleep, or exercise -- make a plan to get it. And if it's something you can't do until later, like go to bed early tonight, write a promise to yourself, put it in prominent place, and keep that promise. 

Still cranky?  Gather your kids, hug them, and say "I'm so sorry, but I'm a bit cranky today. I'll try to be kind to myself so I'm not cranky with you...Can you try to be kind to me too? I promise I'll go to bed early tonight (or whatever) so I'm not cranky again tomorrow."

Children learn so much from that -- how to manage themselves, how to empathize. Kids sense when we're disconnected and stressed, and act out, so often a hug reels them back to their best selves, too. Sure, they'll forget and screech and push your buttons, but they'll do less of that than usual. And you're taking responsibility for your own irritability, so they don't feel like bad people.

Then, when you find yourself starting to raise your voice, you can stop, breathe, and say "So sorry...that's my crankiness talking...let's try a do-over....Here's what I meant to say.... Sweetie, I need it to be more quiet right now...what's a good solution? Can you go outside to play this game?"

What if you find yourself routinely irritable?  Take a Vow of Yellibacy -- make a public commitment to a respectful tone. Agree on a hand signal for anyone in the family to use when someone's tone is less than respectful. Then, as soon as you notice your tone, just STOP and say "Oops.....Let's try a do-over....Let's all breathe together ten times....Ok, let's try that again...What I meant to say is...."

Of course, if you're irritable every day, that's a sign that you need to change something in your life. I encourage you to get whatever support you need to do that. You deserve to feel good. And your kids deserve the best of you, not what's left of you.

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Baby Sleep: When to Let Your Baby Cry It Out

By Scott Morris

Baby Sleep: When to Let Your Baby Cry It Out (tips from

    The biggest lesson I learned when I became a mom: Nothing is predictable--except for a shortage of shut-eye. "It's a given that babies get up a lot during the first three months, and it's important to have realistic expectations," says Harvey Karp, M.D., creator of the DVD and book, The Happiest Baby on the Block.

     By now, you've heard the basic baby sleep training tips for making those 2 a.m. wake-up calls more bearable: You know to keep the lights low and feed your baby before you hit the sack. So what else can you do? Get clued in to some lesser-known nighttime survival strategies with these baby sleep training tips.

    Don't make eye contact.

    You probably know to nix playing or singing during those wee-hour feedings, but you should also avoid gazing into your baby's eyes late at night. "When your baby locks eyes with you, it's almost like she's drinking a double latte-her heart rate speeds up, her blood pressure rises, and she becomes more awake," says Alan Greene, M.D., author of From First Kicks to First Steps. Do make plenty of eye contact during the day so she knows it's time to be awake (plus, it boosts brain development and bonding).

      Regulate the temp.

      You know how you sleep better when the room's a little cooler? Well, your bundle of joy is no different. Keep your baby's room warmer during the day and cooler at night, Dr. Greene suggests. The optimal temperature for infant sleep is between 65 and 70?F. If you don't have a thermostat you can control, leave the window slightly open or use a fan at night. (Just make sure your baby sleeps far away from windows and fans, and that the room never gets too hot or too cold.)

        Use dimmers.

        Light is one way to regulate babies' (and adults') circadian rhythm--the body's internal clock. Plug your lamps into dimmer units (available at hardware stores), and when the sun goes down in the evening, lower the lights--even if your baby isn't going right to bed. To reinforce these rhythms, make sure your home is brightly lit during the day, even if he's napping.

          Make some noise.

          Don't give your child the silent treatment. "Amazingly, the sounds they heard 24/7 in the uterus were about twice as loud as a vacuum cleaner, so babies love and need strong rhythmic noise," Dr. Karp says. Use a white-noise machine, a radio tuned to transmit static, or a nature-sounds CD, or let her sleep near the dishwasher.

            Do the swing thing.

            If you swaddle and use white noise and your baby's still waking up every hour or two, add the swing to the mix. Put your swaddled baby in the reclined seat and buckle her in. "It's a myth that you're starting a bad habit," says Dr. Karp, who adds that fewer than 5 percent of babies need the swing technique. You can gradually stop using it when she's better able to soothe herself.

              Cut the caff.

              You know too much java can rev you up and leave you wide-eyed. It can do the same for your little one if you're breastfeeding. Caffeine from coffee and soda can turn up in breast milk. "A large coffee drink can provide enough caffeine to affect a newborn," Dr. Greene says. "It accumulates in his body quickly and stays with him longer than it does with you - about 96 hours."

                Fill 'er up.

                Starting at around 5 p.m., decrease the time between your child's feedings. For example, if you usually feed her every three hours, do so every two hours in the evening. "This strategy gave my daughter a full stomach before I put her to bed and helped her sleep four- to five-hour stretches by week three," says Louise Johnson, a mother of two from Norwalk, Connecticut.

                  Give diaper duty a rest.

                  The truth is, you don't have to change your baby with each feeding. "If the diaper isn't soaked through or soiled and your child doesn't have extra-sensitive skin or existing diaper rash, skip this step," suggests Michel Cohen, M.D., author of The New Basics: A-to-Z Baby & Child Care for the Modern Parent. Just use absorbent nighttime diapers and a thick diaper cream to protect his skin.

                    Bypass burping.

                    Many breastfeeding babies nurse less avidly at night, so it's not a must to wait (and wait) for that little gust of air. "At night, she'll probably be eating more slowly and therefore swallowing less air--so burping usually isn't necessary," Dr. Cohen explains. See how your child does without the burp; skipping just one step in the feeding routine can give you some extra shut-eye.

                      Hit the bottle.

                      If your breastfeeding newborn wakes often, make it a goal to get him used to drinking your pumped breastmilk from a bottle so you and your spouse can trade off feedings. By sharing the night shift, you both get to enjoy longer stretches of sleep.

                        Make over your room.

                        Everyone's heard about using blackout shades in the baby's room, but put them in your own too. You'll sleep better at night, later in the morning, and snooze more easily during the day while your baby's napping.

                          Do a quick spa treatment.

                          Studies done at the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine found that newborns who had a bedtime massage fell asleep faster and slept more soundly than those who didn't have one. Before bed, give your child a 15-minute massage using slow strokes, moderate pressure, and a baby-safe oil.

                            Breathe easy.

                            One way to get into--and pass on--a mellow mood late at night? "Slow down your breathing. It sends your baby a signal to be calm," explains Georgia Witkin, Ph.D., author of The Female Stress Survival Guide. To pace yourself, use headphones to listen to music that's slower than your heartbeat (anything with fewer than 70 beats per minute, like a ballad), then breathe to the rhythm.

                              Give her a cozy sleep spot.

                              A bassinet can be moved into your bedroom and may improve the quality of your newborn's snooze time. "Babies tend to sleep better in bassinets partly because they feel safer and more enclosed there, and partly because they're closer to their parents," Dr. Greene says. A co-sleeper can have the same effect.

                                See the light.

                                When it's time to rise and shine, get into bright light ASAP. "Exposure to light tells your biological clock that you should be alert," explains James B. Maas, Ph.D., author of Remmy and the Brain Train: Traveling Through the Land of Good Sleep. Head out for a walk with your baby or sit with her by a sunny window. It'll stimulate both of you and help you remember the one other thing that's predictable about motherhood: No matter how tough the night shift is, the sun will come up tomorrow.

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                                Autism Research Institute's Approach to Autism

                                By Dallas Stevens

                                The Autism Research Institute's Approach to Autism

                                by Dr. Stephen Edelson

                                We continue to gain insight into the many aspects of autism from research studies and from individuals on the spectrum. The more we know about autism, the more we realize that we need to expand how we think about and treat these individuals. It’s been a long-held commitment at the Autism Research Institute (ARI) that, along with identifying what can be done, we must also consider with great care what should be done to aid those on the autism spectrum. Fifty years ago we were among very few voices seriously talking about autism; today, many more contemplate what it means to treat – or strive to treat – persons with autism, especially as it is now recognized to be a very common condition. But, despite increased interest in research and clinical care, there are great gaps in our knowledge of the causes and care for persons with autism. An understanding of autism and the development and provision of appropriate care for affected individuals and their families is, in our view, one of the central challenges of contemporary medicine.

                                ARI’s nearly fifty-year history of research and advocacy has placed us in a unique position in several important regards: (1) to fund particularly innovative basic and clinical research efforts with the potential for high impact; (2) to support outstanding clinical programs; (3) to develop and make widely available educational materials regarding diverse aspects of autism; and (4) to facilitate communication on all aspects of autism between individuals with autism, families, clinicians, researchers, and policy makers.

                                Who is the leadership of the ARI and what is its central operational philosophy?

                                Today ARI is a cohesive and communicative network of researchers, adults on the spectrum, parents, and professionals – all of whom support an all-encompassing approach to understanding autism and promoting high quality education, medical care, and life opportunities for individuals on the spectrum and support for their families. ARI’s staff and Board of Directors consist of researchers, individuals on the autism spectrum, parents, and practitioners. Our Scientific Advisory Panel includes researchers and science-oriented clinicians with diverse expertise, including scholars in neurology, medical genetics, biochemistry, nutrition, psychology, and education, all of whom are active in the organization and passionate about our mission. We do not consider that a single perspective will be sufficient to understand and help all, or even the majority, of individuals on the autism spectrum. We therefore embrace inclusive discussion to advance our mission. Our record supports the value of this approach to helping with autism.

                                How does ARI view research on the underlying causes of autism?

                                In his seminal book Infantile Autism, published in 1964, ARI’s founder Dr. Bernard Rimland argued that autism was biologically based; this was a pioneering position at the time. He was also one of the first professionals to propose a possible genetic basis for autism. A few years later, in 1967, he expanded his argument to include environmental insults as possible contributory factors. Over the past fifty years, diverse types of genetic research have indicated that there are different types of genetic contributions to the causation of autism, ranging from some chromosomal causes, to some single gene disorders associated with autism, to forms that have a partial and still poorly understood genetic basis. A growing number of studies, especially in the past ten years, indicate that environmental factors, largely not understood, also contribute significantly to autism causation. Clearly, much more work needs to be done to clarify the underpinnings of autism; while great progress has been made, our understanding of the causes of autism is still quite limited and our understanding of the biology of autism is even more deficient.

                                Can interventions help those with autism?

                                ARI was the first organization to argue unequivocally that those on the spectrum can benefit from intervention, coining the phrase “Autism Is Treatable.” With enough published peer-reviewed studies, more interventions will soon become evidence-based and be accepted by the autism and medical communities in addition to government agencies and health insurance companies. ARI takes the position that one can live a healthy lifestyle by targeting specific physical problems. Many, if not most, people with autism may need some form of therapy to treat their physical health conditions. These treatments may be neurologically based (e.g., to stop seizure activity), medically based (e.g., to reduce gastroesophageal reflux or severe constipation), nutritionally based (e.g., to normalize a nutritional deficiency), or sensory based (e.g., to reduce hyper-sensitivities). Medical approaches augment educational and behavioral approaches that are often needed and can also be helpful.

                                Some adults on the spectrum state that it is not necessary to provide them with help or assistance—that they do not need to be “treated.” They embrace the diagnosis and are pleased with their overall sense of being. These individuals very much want to be accepted for who they are. ARI’s Board of Directors, staff, and those in our network respect the right of those on the spectrum to choose whether or not to access treatment.

                                What is ARI doing with regard to current and future research?

                                ARI conducts research, collaborates with other research centers, and awards grants to support “research that makes a difference.” (Dr. Rimland’s noteworthy slogan). Areas of interest include behavioral analysis, sensory processing, genetics, nutrition, and gastrointestinal, metabolic, neurologic, and immunologic aspects of autism. Both scientific and medical advances have resulted from the research awards that we have provided.

                                Having access to tissues is crucial to many types of biomedical research. We financially support a brain-tissue bank at the University of Maryland, as well as another tissue repository at the pediatric gastroenterology section of the Massachusetts General Hospital.

                                One of the reasons for the slow progress in finding solutions is the disconnect among researchers in the various disciplines mentioned above. At ARI we continually work to develop productive lines of communication among researchers within and between various fields by inviting them to participate on our Scientific Advisory Panel. We sponsor regular conference call meetings with these committee members and invite other scientists to join in on the conversation. In addition, we organize multidisciplinary national and regional Think Tanks each year and publish a science review newsletter summarizing these discussions and other advances.

                                How does ARI help those with autism and their families?

                                Our efforts at ARI are also focused on disseminating relevant information about autism to those on the spectrum and their families. We do this by providing assessment forms as well as informative articles and videos on our popular website, We also broadcast live presentations on the Internet on an almost weekly basis. In addition, we publish three different e-newsletters on a regular basis, post relevant information daily on social media, and manage a toll-free information call center.

                                ARI is active in distributing information to families throughout the world. ARI is one of a handful of autism-related NGO members at the United Nations. Many of our evaluation forms and articles are translated into other languages. We co-sponsor an international three-day conference in Moscow each year, and we helped send representatives to present talks in various parts of the world, including Colombia, Ghana, India, the Philippines, and Ukraine.

                                What is ARI doing with respect to adults with autism?

                                More than a decade ago, ARI started to expand its efforts to include adults on the spectrum. In 2007, we organized and edited a book with Jessica Kingsley Publishers on adult-related issues. We also offered lectures on adult-related issues at our past conferences, and currently in our live webinars. Some of these presentations are uploaded to YouTube.

                                A few years ago we formalized an adult program within ARI called the Autistic Global Initiative (AGI), and we employ adults on the spectrum to run it. They provide self-advocacy mentorship to young adults, publish a quarterly e-newsletter, produce film documentaries (trauma, sensory sensitivities), and develop trainings (residential care, employment). At their 50th anniversary conference this year, the Autism Society of America honored ARI’s AGI program for “the advancement, effective transition, and meaningful employment of people with autism.” We are proud of our record of advocacy for adults with autism.

                                What is ARI’s position on the possibility of recovery from autism?

                                We hear reports by parents and professionals regarding recovery in some individuals on the spectrum based on many of the interventions mentioned earlier. There are many ways to interpret the word “recovery,” and we view recovery in the same way as the medical community—that is, as a managed state, similar to recovery from addiction or cancer. Individuals receiving appropriate treatment and support will retain their unique and wonderful personality, but they will be better able to manage life and feel physically well. Although there may still be some residual “autistic” traits, many of these individuals have a positive prognosis to live independently, be fully employed, develop personal relationships, and live a fulfilling life. Over the years, we have conducted surveys on these unique individuals, produced documentaries and a book describing cases, and even assisted NIMH in recruiting participants for a study on those who make unusual progress beyond their initial prognosis.

                                What is ARI doing to support clinicians who care for persons with autism?

                                To expedite the use of evidence-based treatments, ARI also disseminates science-based information directly to healthcare professionals. We work jointly with the Cleveland Clinic Center for Continuing Education and offer free online CME films for providers on diverse aspects of autism. We also distribute a bimonthly e-newsletter to inform more than 6,000 physicians, nurses, obstetricians, and parents on the latest medical advances. Recently, ARI has continued its efforts in support of education of health professionals through a new initiative: the development of a new scholarly work, to be published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, on understanding and treating self-injurious behaviors, an often devastating phenotype that has heretofore received inadequate attention.

                                What’s next for the ARI?

                                In the year to come we plan to continue developing more innovative ways to support the autism community through networking, supporting research, and disseminating relevant information at a global level. We also plan to maintain our current programs and projects. To learn more about ARI, please read our list of accomplishments in 2015 Lists of accomplishments in previous years can be found on our website.

                                How can you help?

                                Most of our financial support comes directly from the autism community, especially from parents of children of all ages and their relatives. Unlike most autism organizations, we are independent of outside influence. We do not accept grants from government agencies or donations from big Pharma or insurance companies. In addition, we do not accept contributions from providers or promote autism-related products and services.

                                If you agree with our approach to autism and value the work that we’ve done, I urge you to support our continued efforts by making a contribution to ARI and by sharing our information with those on the spectrum, parents, and professionals.

                                Please consider supporting our efforts.

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                                Summer Baby Eye Care

                                By Scott Morris

                                teaching your children to wear sunglasses may be more important than giving them a college fund - Dr. Alan Green

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                                A Beautiful Friendship: Two Nonverbal Teens With Autism

                                By Scott Morris

                                We are more than just a baby sunglasses company. An important part of our business is our commitment to donate a portion of all sales to autism charity. In keeping with that, we also like to blog about inspiring stories from the autism community. This one comes from the Huffington Post and the Autism Research Center in San Diego.

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                                We're #1! Named favorite baby sunglasses on the market!

                                By Scott Morris

                                Sorry, but we felt like doing a little bragging. Recently, a leading kids' sunglasses retailer (aptly named, My First Sunglasses Company) chose little ol' roshambo baby as their favorite baby sunglasses brand and the baby shades they recommend without hesitation to their parents seeking advice on the best baby sunglasses on the market. We thought we would share what they had to say, this is straight from their blog:

                                roshambo baby Designer Baby Sunglasses - We LOVE These Baby Sunglasses...Heres Why

                                Designer Baby Sunglasses from RoShamBo BabyMay 1, 2015

                                Spring is definitly here and lots of parents are shopping for a pair of awesome sunglasses for their child.  We are having a wonderful time talking with our customers all over the world helping parents looking for the perfect pair of stylin' sunglasses for their babies and kiddos.  The most common question we get is pretty straight forward, "which pair of sunglasses should I get for my child?" 

                                Though we stand behind all of the kids sunglasses and baby sunglasses we offer, we frequently point our parents toward our overall favorites.  RoShamBo Baby designer sunglasses for babies are easily our top pick!   We love this company and their products for so many reasons and we know that our parents do to when they recieve their order.

                                RoShamBo Baby is a small family run business, like us, based in California.  Unlike all of the other sunglasses companies we work with, we have built a personnal relationship with RoShamBo Baby and have gotten to know Scott (the "Chief Everything Officer") very well.  We were first drawn to their baby sunglasses because of their unique Italian made origins.   Most of our products originiate from Asia, which isn't all bad, but the factory making RoShamBo Baby sunglasses is a small family run business that Scott and his wife have personally toured.  Pretty cool!  Equally awesome is that the RoShamBo baby sunglasses have cool California styling with a classic retro-wayfarer look with super flexible frames made of baby safe materials.  We all know our babies love to put things in their mouths...including their sunglasses.  Last, but certainly not least every pair of RoShamBo Baby sunglasses sold helps support autism research.  No other kids sunglasses company does anything like this and that is pretty amazing!

                                It is easy to buy an inexpensive pair of kids sunglasses that will last a summer.  As a parent, it feels great getting an awesome pair of sunglasses for your baby that will last for years, comes from small family run businesses, is made of baby safe materials, and helps support autism research. For all of these reasons and many more you now know why we just plain LOVE RoShamBo Baby sunglasses and can easily point our parents and customers towards them. 

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                                Adults with Autism

                                By Scott Morris

                                We are about more than the world's best baby sunglasses and kids shades here at baby. As you probably know, we also donate a portion of all proceeds to an autism charity based in our hometown of San Diego, the Autism Research Institute. We have a passion for this cause because we have autism in our family... owner Scott's adult cousin is severely autistic and will likely need assistance for some functions for the rest of his life. Despite being on the autism spectrum, he loves volunteering at a local animal shelter and even helps his dad with tasks at his construction business.

                                We wanted to dedicate some ink to the cause of supporting and shining a light on autism spectrum disorder in adults, because they are too often forgotten in the public dialogue. Some of the following is excerpted from a great article about the crisis of services for adults with autism recently published on WebMD.

                                An estimated one of every 88 children in the United States has an autism spectrum disorder, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That means that 45,000 to 50,000 kids with autism turn 18 each year, says autism researcher Paul Shattuck, from Washington University in St. Louis.

                                "This is an impending health care or community care crisis," said Dr. Joseph Cubells, director of medical and adult services at the Emory Autism Center at Emory University in Atlanta. "The services that are available vary from state to state, but often the resources just aren't there."

                                Public schools are required to provide services to people with an autism spectrum disorder until they reach age 22, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. After that, the responsibility shifts to the person with autism and family members to find educational or employment opportunities and appropriate living arrangements.

                                But experts note that a shortage of necessary programs for adults with autism already exists and is likely to worsen as the increasing number of children who are being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders grow into adults. Some adults on the spectrum are phenomenally successful, going to, and thriving in college and the workplace. But for many, navigating the world of employment can be a significant challenge. While some employers might be understanding, and some might even make certain accommodations, what employers are most concerned with is their bottom line -- making it all the more important for adults with an autism spectrum disorder to be placed in jobs that match their skills and interests.

                                Researchers have found that more than one in three adults on the autism spectrum had no engagement in education or employment for the first six years after high school. Those profoundly affected by autism generally end up staying with their families. Expensive, private options are often available but out of reach for many families. Services for housing options or vocational training are very hit-and-miss and there is a tremendous need for training about autism in the helping agencies.

                                That is where organizations like the Autism Research Institute can help. They provide training to people on the spectrum and their families, and even have job placement services to help them. We are hoping to make a small difference at some point too. If and when we get big enough to have employees, we are hoping to find an employee on the spectrum that can help us grow our business. We have no doubt that commitment could change the lives of us and our future employee.

                                As always, remember:

                                Little People Deserve Big People Shades & Families That Shade Together Stay Together.

                                Love, Scott, Julia & Baby Avery

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