Archive for ADHD Parenting – Page 2

ADHD: Teacher Horror Stories

We just posted an article to this blog about good communication strategies for parents to use with their child’s teacher.

We’d love to hear from you, as well as other readers from our online community.

While there are many great teachers out there, who make a dramatic difference in kids’ lives, there are also teachers who just don’t mesh well with kids with ADHD. I’d love to hear from you – have you had a real problem with a teacher for your child with ADD or ADHD?

Sometimes there are problems with teachers not helping, and other times there are teachers that seem to make things worse. I think the latter falls into the category of ‘horror stories’.

I open up this discussion, because I think it can be helpful for all of us to learn about the challenges that many people have gone through. That said – I want to be clear here about the ‘ground rules’ for comments below:

  1. All comments are moderated – so your comment won’t appear right away, and if it is deemed inappropriate in any way, it won’t be posted to this blog
  2. It is not OK to identify teachers by name and school – i.e. I don’t want this to turn into a place to specifically ‘get back’ at a teacher you were upset with. Please don’t use names or school names, and we can just learn about your challenges (and hopefully solutions you eventually found)
  3. It is not OK to include hateful, racial or threatening comments (it is completely up to us to determine the definition of those terms)

So — after reading those ‘ground rules’, you may wonder what I’m expecting… I’ve been blogging in the ADHD space for a few years now, and I know that when people are typing comments in (often late at night), they can include more than they intend to. If you stick to the ground rules, we’d love to hear your comments about struggles with teachers.

As I’ve posted before, teachers are wonderful and can be tremendously helpful. I hope that the comments below will help teachers and other educators to know what NOT to do, and it can also help parents to understand other people’s struggles and hopefully the solutions they found.

All the best,

Dr. Kenny

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Great Teachers for ADD?

We just posted an article to this blog about good communication strategies for parents to use with their child’s teacher.

We’d love to hear from you, as well as other readers from our online community.

Has your son or daughter had a teacher who has made a tremendous difference in your child’s life?

Please take a moment and share some comments below – we’d love to hear about it.

… and it could help to inspire other teachers, and let some parents know what is possible.

Personally, I remember many of my teachers over the years who had a dramatic impact on me. I remember them well, and I have stories about how they went ‘above and beyond’.

Please share your comments and experiences below.


Dr. Kenny

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ADHD in School: Parent Teacher Communication

One of the cornerstones of ADD/ADHD treatment is strategies which help at school. Academic challenges are one of the main reasons that people are referred for assessment and treatment of ADD/ADHD.

Treatment of ADD/ADHD needs to be ‘multimodal’ – i.e. more than just medication! We need counseling, strategies, as well as parenting strategies and school strategies.

When it comes to school strategies – parent-teacher communication is one of the cornerstones of the strategies that work.

Why is this?

Because your child is with the teacher for so many hours a day, and the teacher is the one who is evaluating your child, giving feedback to your child, and helping (or not helping) your child to get the right resources in the school.

Best Approaches To Good Communication With The Teacher:

  1. Respect the role that the teacher plays
  2. Understand that the teacher is often under tremendous pressure
  3. Book a meeting early in the school year, with regular follow ups
  4. If all else fails, Part 1: get help from the office
  5. If all else fails, Part 2: aim for the right teacher next year

Now let’s go through these one by one.

1) Respect the role that the teacher plays:

Teachers play a tremendously important role in our children’s lives. They teach our kids, and they also model good behavior, and evaluate how our children are doing. As they evaluate, they get an idea as to whether our children have increased symptoms of inattention, or hyperactivity, or sadness or even anxiety, for that matter.

Teachers can’t diagnose ADHD, and they can’t recommend medication, but they can let you know that your child may be having difficulties, and you should talk to your doctor.

Remember – the teacher will see your child in different circumstances than you see them in – so your child may display symptoms in a different way in school (i.e. you don’t see them doing math work in a class with 25 other children…). It is important to respectfully listen to the teacher’s feedback, and then take action on it. Don’t get defensive! This can just make things harder…

2) Understand that the teacher is often under tremendous pressure:

Realize that teachers are often asked to give more and more to their classes, with less and less resources. Even great teachers can get tired and frustrated with administrative issues and financial pressures. Be sure to share your appreciation for what your child’s teacher is doing to help your child to succeed. Like all people, teachers like to be appreciated. And they will be more likely to do more to help when they feel that what they are doing is helping and being appreciated.

3) Book a meeting early in the school year, with regular follow ups

Many parents wait for the teacher to call them for meetings. If you know your child has ADD/ADHD, be proactive. Contact the teacher early in the year, and let him or her know that your child has ADD/ADHD, and you’d like to touch base to discuss strategies that work. Even when teachers have notes on your child, the beginning of the school year is so hectic, that the teacher will usually appreciate the opportunity to hear from you about what works best for your son or daughter.

This first meeting also sets the tone of you being a proactive parent, who wants to keep in touch and work collaboratively with the teacher about your son or daughter. That can help a lot as the months go on through the school year.

Aim to have regular communication with the teacher. You can either ask to meet in person every 6 weeks, or if the teacher is OK with email, you can use that for weekly updates. Maybe a parent-teacher communication book would be ideal. Ask the teacher, and then work on your end to support that mode of communication. Remember – you should be more flexible! So, if the teacher wants to write in a communication book, and you prefer email – just accept the communication book!

4) If all else fails, Part 1: get help from the office

Sometimes, despite the best efforts (on both the parent and teacher’s side) the communication doesn’t work well. There can be frustrations and challenges. If that is the case – seek help from the office.

Often times a guidance counselor, special ed teacher, or even the Vice-Principal or Principal can get involved to help to smooth things out with the teacher if things aren’t going well. They may also be able to get more resources into the classroom to help your child on  a day to day basis.

5) If all else fails, Part 2: Aim for the right teacher next year

Actually, this idea holds whether your child has had a great year, or a not-so-great year this year. In the spring, ask the teacher, or the guidance counselor, “who would be the best teacher to help my son/daughter next year?”

Although staff in the school would never say: ‘make sure that Jim doesn’t get Mr. Smith’, they would say that, ‘We think Jim would do much better with Mr. Jones.’ This allows them to try to find the best match for your child.

Be sure to ask early enough toward the end of the school year to make sure that the school can have time to put the recommendation into effect for the next school year. Shouldn’t they do this already? Maybe… But they have so many administrative things to think about, that they may not come up with this without your reminder/request.

Hopefully these recommendations can help you to communicate well with your child’s teacher. Good communication with the teacher can make a great difference in your child’s outcome for any given school year.

Please share your thoughts and comments below.


Dr. Kenny

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Age Activated ADD

This is a humorous video from Youtube about ‘Age Activated ADHD’. Although this is a funny ‘sketch’, it describes what many people with ADD/ADHD feel like when they go about their day.

Watching it can help parents of kids/teens with ADD/ADHD, and spouses of adults with ADD/ADHD understand what is really going on for people who have this condition.


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ADD Coaching Video

After last week’s post about ADD/ADHD Coaching – there was a lot of discussion – both in the blog comments, and with me directly.
I’m glad to see that the blog post created so much interest in coaching.

I’ve created a follow up video – as well as the chance for people to take part in a very affordable form of ADD Coaching.

You can watch the video and learn more here.


Dr. Kenny

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ADHD Coaching: What Is It?

coach 199x300 ADHD Coaching: What Is It?As part of the diagnosis of ADD/ADHD, one has to have ‘impairment’ in functioning, in addition to the required number of symptoms.
In my experience, people often don’t put enough importance on the impact of  this impairment.

Having ADD/ADHD symptoms can be problematic on its own…
But the real issue is when your (or your child’s) functioning is impaired.

How does this show up?

In adult ADD/ADHD, impairment in functioning can come out in these types of situations:

  • Paying bills and keeping up with paperwork
  • Meetings
  • Setting goals and achieving them
  • Handling relationships
  • Coping with frustrations
  • and much more…

In child/teen ADD/ADHD, impairment in functioning can come out in these types of situations:

  • Homework
  • Completing tasks/chores
  • Handling frustration
  • Social situations
  • Listening to and following instructions
  • And much more…

While all treatments for ADD/ADHD aim to improve functioning – they don’t always succeed. Medication can have a big impact on ADD/ADHD symptoms, and can often have an impact on functioning. Though often the improvement in functioning is not enough with medication on its own.

We aim for ‘multi-modal’ treatment – i.e. treatment which includes medication, as well as other modalities to help, because ‘pills don’t teach skills’.

One modality which has grown in its popularity and usefulness in the field of ADD/ADHD treatment is coaching.

What is coaching for ADD/ADHD?

Coaching for ADD/ADHD starts with a trained coach. Coaches who specialize in working with ADD/ADHD are trained life coaches, and may be certified by the ICF – the International Coach Federation, or other organizations like the International Association of Coaches (IAC) or others. In addition to having this qualification, ADD/ADHD coaches also specialize in ADD/ADHD (and they have taken specialized training in ADD coaching from organizations like: ADD Coaching Academy (or others))- so that they can tailor the coaching methodology to suit the specific needs of individuals with ADD/ADHD.

What Do ADD Coaches Do?

ADD/ADHD Coaches work with people in a collaborative way. Whereas therapy is often looking backward – i.e. at previous issues or challenges and how they can understood differently – coaches are forward focused – i.e. on functioning in the present and in the future.

ADD/ADHD Coaches help people to:

  • Find their strengths
  • Develop strategies for their areas of challenge
  • Pull in the resources they need
  • Develop skills to take care of themselves
  • And a whole lot more…

The coaching relationship is a very collaborative one – where the coach works with the individual to work on his/her own goals, challenges and issues.

The ADD/ADHD coach provides: accountability, support and encouragement.
When someone has been challenged with functional issues with their ADD/ADHD for some time – these three things can make a world of difference for someone who has been struggling.

How Does ADD/ADHD Coaching Work?

When someone works with an ADD/ADHD coach, they meet with their coach regularly. It is very common for these meetings, or appointments to occur on the telephone. There are times that someone can have sessions with their ADD/ADHD coach in an office (or even a coffee shop) for face to face sessions, but it is very common for telephone coaching to occur. Telephone coaching helps to eliminate the need for travel time, and it helps people to find a coach who suits them best, even if they are geographically far away from that coach.

In general, there would be a ‘getting to know you’ session, and the parameters of coaching would be discussed – so that the participant learns what he can expect from the coach, as well as the coaching process.

Then, there are coaching sessions which occur on a reasonably frequent basis – i.e. 2-4 times per month. Many coaches also include ‘check in’ emails on a more frequent basis. These emails help people to be more accountable, and to have more ongoing support between coaching calls.

How much does ADD/ADHD coaching cost?

Prices can vary – depending on the coach’s experience, and their expertise. For example – a new coach would charge less than someone who has been doing this for years. It is common for people to pay $300-$400 per month for the personalized support of an ADD coach.

Group coaching is an option which can make it more affordable for people to participate in ADD/ADHD coaching. This way, there is less personalized attention, yet the person is able to still benefit from the coaching process. Group coaching is less expensive, and thus it is often easier for people to participate in.

Does ADD/ADHD Coaching Work for Adults, Teens and Kids with ADHD?

ADD coaching has been done with adults right from its start. When an adult engages in coaching, he/she can take responsibility for his/her participation in the process and benefit from it.

When coaching is done with kids or teens with ADHD, it can be much harder. This can relate to many issues – including a child or teen’s comprehension of what is going on (i.e. do they even attribute problematic behaviors to their own symptoms or actions?), or their desire to work on challenging or frustrating issues. My understanding is that for older teens, ADD coaching can be a lot more helpful than for young kids.

That said, as with behavioral treatments for kids and teens with ADD/ADHD, when the parents learn the specific skills, they can help to support their child or teen with these on a day to day basis. Thus, if parents learn the skills that an ADD coach can provide, it can help the child or teen significantly.

Resources which you may be interested in:

This article is meant to be an introduction to coaching for ADD/ADHD. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Please let us know: Have you ever considered coaching for ADD/ADHD? Have you ever tried it?

Please share your comments below.


Dr. Kenny

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4 Ways To Get ADHD Kids to Read

Author Rick Riordan wrote the best selling Percy Jackson books (the first of which was also made into a great movie). These books started as bedtime stories for his son – who has ADHD and Dyslexia.

Mr. Riordan shares 4 ways to encourage reading in your ADHD child.

These are:

  1. Model reading at home
  2. Match your children with the right books
  3. Create a productive environment for reading
  4. Most importantly, keep the long view.

You can read Mr. Riordan’s detailed advice in his article here. He shares a refreshingly positive view of ADHD kids and teens. This article is definitely worth a read.

Do you have any strategies which help you to promote reading in your ADHD child or teen? Please share them with us in the comments below.


Dr. Kenny

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Clapton, Eminem, Swift and ADHD

magminded Clapton, Eminem, Swift and ADHD


Last Friday, I let my subscribers know about the new audio CD program that I put together with Dr. E. Hallowell about some of the positive aspects of ADD/ADHD. (It’s called: Magnificently Minded). This email created quite a buzz.

As an audio CD program, this program ‘competes’ with the music industry. So, when our program was being bought, Amazon was ranking it compared to the newest albums of Eric Clapton, Eminem, and Taylor Swift.

Now, I’d love to say that we sold more CDs than these superstars – but that’s not the case. We were, however, the 430th most popular CD last Friday. I took a screenshot with my iPhone (I was at work in my clinic, and wanted to capture the moment!). You can see the image here:
magmindedbestseller Clapton, Eminem, Swift and ADHD

What’s all the buzz about with this program?

This is a program that helps to change your perspective on ADD/ADHD – in a positive way. You need to be able to see the positive in ADD/ADHD so that you can deal with the stigma and negativity that people often ‘throw’ at you or your loved one.

For many parents of kids or teens with ADHD, or many adults with
ADHD, it can be a daily grind. Regular challenges, occasional
victories, and a finish line that keeps on moving (you know what
I mean – just when you get things stable, there’s a new teacher
who messes everything up – or something like that).

It can also be helpful to look at ADD/ADHD in a new light.
A fresh perspective.
To see things in a new way – to help to motivate you, keep you
going, and to realize what’s possible.

That’s exactly the reason that Dr. Hallowell and I partnered up
to create a 2 CD set called: Magnificently Minded.

In this program, Dr. Hallowell shares 3 of his speeches/lectures
on the possible benefits and strengths which can be found in
ADD/ADHD. I provide discussion and interpretation to give you an
even deeper understand of the important lessons that you can
learn from Dr. Hallowell’s sessions.

These CD’s don’t try to say that ADD is a gift that everyone
would want to have… they share with you how a positive
perspective can make a difference for your child or teen with
ADD/ADHD, or for yourself if you’re an adult with ADD.

In this program, Dr. Hallowell shares:
* The ADD Soliloquy: This is a speech about ADD from the
perspective of a young boy. This funny session gives you
insight into how a child with ADD/ADHD perceives the world.
Dr. Hallowell’s talent is providing you great insights with
a witty sense of humor. You’ll laugh as you gain a deeper
understanding of how ADD works in a child’s mind. And if
you’re an adult with ADD – you’ll learn something about
yourself too
* The Society of the Magnificently Minded: Dr. Hallowell gave
a gradation speech to the graduating class of the school
Eagle Hill a few years ago. It’s a school for kids who learn
differently. It was so inspiring that it created quite a
buzz in the worlds of ADD and learning disabilities. This is
your chance to hear Dr. Hallowell read the speech – and to
benefit from its insights and inspiration…
* What’s it like to have ADD: In this session, Dr. Hallowell
combines his experiences as an adult with ADD, as well as
his experience as an expert in the field for more than 20
years to give you a perspective which is thorough, helpful
and inspiring.

Throughout the CD’s, I’m honored to discuss Dr. Hallowell’s
sessions, and to help you to take the insights even deeper.

For those of you who don’t know him, Dr. Hallowell is one of the
best selling authors on ADD/ADHD, and is a Boston area
Psychiatrist who is not only an expert in ADD, but has ADD and a
learning disability himself.

So, what can you get from these CD’s if you decide to get a copy?
You’ll get top notch ADD/ADHD education, which is humorous and

I wanted to share it with you today, because it was quite the buzz on Amazon last week (even though we didn’t beat Clapton, Eminem and Swift :-)).

Dr. Kenny

p.s. if you feel that you could use some humor and inspiration
around ADD/ADHD, check out this program today…
(And feel free to pass this message along to anyone else who you
think could benefit from it)

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ADHD Medication in Families

It has been known for a long time that ADD/ADHD runs in families. ADD/ADHD is very genetic. Heritability studies show that ADD/ADHD is about as genetic as height – i.e. it is in the 80-85% heritable.

A study was done that shows that it is quite common for more than one member of the family to be taking medication for ADD/ADHD.

If a child is taking ADD/ADHD medication, a parent is 9 times more likely to be taking medication for the condition as well. The researchers found that 60% of the time it was the mother vs. 40% of the time with the father.

In my clinical experience working with kids and teens, often times when a parent gets a diagnosis of ADHD and starts treatment (often including medication) this can have a dramatic impact on the outcome for the child or teen. This relates to the fact that a lot of the parenting approaches which work for ADD/ADHD kids and teens involve the parents introducing structure in the parenting. If the mother or father have ADD/ADHD, they may struggle to establish the needed structure. When they receive treatment, things can improve significantly.

Do you have more than one family member taking ADD/ADHD medication? What’s your experience?


Dr. Kenny

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ADHD Parenting: Flexibility

I was recently sitting in a team meeting with the members of our clinic team. We were having a discussion which was partially about patients, but also partially about parenting techniques which we use as parents ourselves.

It was a very interesting discussion…

You see, I was talking about the difficulty that a set of parents were having with their ADHD and ODD teen. He would push the parents to the limits of their comfort zone. He would take any issue to the extreme – and in so doing, push either mom or dad’s buttons to the extreme.

And then the parents would either argue with each other and cave in on their expectations, or just cave in on their expectations.

Let’s be clear – I’m going to refer to a ‘theoretical’ set of parents – and pull some general types of situations that I hear about from different families to illustrate the points for this article.

In my experience, most parents have a ‘bottom line’ that they don’t want crossed. They feel that if that line is crossed, that they have failed.

The issue is that sometimes, mom and dad have different bottom lines.

And even though parents don’t say out loud what their bottom lines are, their teens know them. And they push the buttons right to the ‘bottom line’ whenever they need to get something, and it doesn’t seem to be going their way.

Although I’m speaking about a theoretical example of a 2 parent family – teens can do this just as well with a single parent as well. They just push it to the extreme on the ‘touchiest’ issue that their parent has.

And it shouldn’t surprise you that your teen knows your biggest buttons. Let’s be realistic. Kids know them before they are 10 years old. Probably before they are 6 years old – or even 4 years old. Kids observe their parents well – and they try lots of behavior to see the responses their parents will give. And then they hone in on the areas that give the biggest responses. Bingo – they know your hot button. No PhD necessary…  Just time, practice, and daily wearing you down…

Back to our theoretical parents.

Let’s say that mom has a ‘bottom line’ that there can’t be any aggression in the home. And dad has a ‘bottom line’ that the parents need to provide a roof over their kid’s heads, or they have failed as parents.

So, let’s look at a theoretical situation where a teenage boy with ADHD and ODD wants to do something, and he feels that the parents are coming down too hard on him. Let’s say he wants to play ‘World of Warcraft’ and he doesn’t think it matters that he’s been on it for 11 hours today, he wants to keep playing. When mom and dad try to take the computer cord or to shut off the internet to get him to go outside, or to eat a meal – he starts to fight, and ‘goes for the throat’.

In my experience, most kids and teens with ADHD aren’t completely consciously aware of their parent’s buttons. But they certainly are unconsciously aware. And they go for it.

To make sure he will be able to get to play more time on the computer here’s a strategy he could use.

First – he gets angry, and ‘in dad’s face’. He starts yelling, and threatening. He pushes his chest out and takes a threatening posture. Dad’s anger and male ‘macho’ starts to kick in when he gets so angry about how he’s being disrespected. So, he raises his voice, and ‘puffs out’ his chest. All the while, mom is watching this and she starts to get very concerned that her son and husband are about to get into a physical fight.

Remember – mom considers the worst thing that can happen to be a physical fight in her home. So, she starts to freak out – and she jumps in to stop this ‘testosterone challenge’ from continuing.

Now, dad gets angry at mom for stepping in and undermining him. Mom feels that although this is a problem, it’s far better than letting her son and husband progress to the extent that it’s even remotely possible that they could get into a fight.

At this stage of the situation, the teenager has now split mom and dad, and he’s close to ‘winning’. He probably doesn’t feel that he’s close to winning, in fact he probably feels angry and charged up, because he was getting close to wanting to fight his dad.

Now that mom and dad are starting to fight, the teen now goes for the ‘final blow’. He has already pushed mom’s biggest button, so now he goes for dad.

He says something like: ‘I don’t have to deal with this bullsh**! If I leave and go to my Jim’s, his parents aren’t nearly as crazy as you two!’ Now this will push some of dad’s buttons.

But if he said: ‘ I’d rather live at the Salvation Army shelter than deal with this crap!’ This would really get dad going. Remember – dad considers it the ultimate failure if his kids aren’t being sheltered in his own home.

So even if mom thinks that her son could get a ‘dose of reality’ if he moved out for a while (like the shelter staff wouldn’t let him sit on a computer for 11 hours, and serve him food in his room), dad wouldn’t tolerate it.

Now, mom’s buttons are pushed, dad’s buttons are pushed, and now it is relatively easy for the teen to continue on with the behavior that he or she wanted to do in the first place.

The fallout of this – everyone is upset. The parents feel that they can’t do anything to stop their teen’s behavior. The teen is angry. Mom and dad and angry with one another, and they are arguing about what could have worked if the other parent hadn’t screwed it up. The parents feel that they need to call the doctor or the therapist because their child’s disorders (ADHD and ODD) are out of control and the medication needs adjusting…

Coming back to the meeting I was having with my treatment team at my clinic, I was talking about strategies to help these theoretical parents come onto the same page and strategies they could use to improve the situation.

The ‘solution’ to this type of situation really involves the parents doing a lot of personal and relationship work.

The parents need to change or eliminate their ‘buttons’ so that they can’t be pushed to the limit by their teen. The parents need to get on the same page, so that they can’t be ‘divided and conquered’. And the parents need to be more flexible.

Flexibility is the key.

Let’s summarize it this way: ‘she/he who is more flexible, wins’.

What I mean by this is – if your child or teen has more ways to upset you and push your buttons than you have to handle it, then he or she wins.

If you have more ways to handle the situation than they have to mess it up – then you win. And if they try to push a button – and you laugh, don’t fall for it -and go on to push their buttons, then you win.

And this is where the discussion was going with the other therapists in my team meeting. Through the course of the discussion, the team members who are also parents of teens shared some of the strategies they use.

A male therapist said that his teens have informed him that he needs to keep his shirt on when they are out in public because he’s ‘hideous’. So, when he’s out with his teens, and they are getting demanding and unreasonable – he informs them calmly that if they continue on with that issue, he will take off his shirt in 30 seconds. This new strategy has worked every time.

A female therapist explained that when her teen was having issues with getting home on time – she said that she would drive to the party and come in to get her daughter – and make sure to say hi to all of the teens and ask them about what they had been doing that night. Her daughter started coming home on time (rather than ‘die’ at how embarrassing her mother would be).

These examples are not meant to be examples of the best solutions to parenting your ADHD and/or ODD child. What they are examples of is parents who have decided that they are going to be flexible, creative, and do what it takes to show their kids that they are the parents, and they have the upper hand. When they do this successfully, they maintain some semblance of control.

When their teen pushes their buttons to the extreme, and the teen gains control, the parents have lost their ability to parent.

Think about flexibility. How can you be more flexible than your child or teen.

And if the example described above rings true to your experience, take some time to talk to your doctor or therapist about specific approaches you can take to increase your flexibility and increase your sense of control with your ADD/ADHD, ODD or just difficult child or teen.

Please share your thoughts or experiences below.


Dr. Kenny

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