Story of Autism About Ashley Clark

I am Kim Clark from Kentucky and this is the Story of Autism about my dear daughter, Ashley.

I married my high school sweetheart David in 1983. We waited awhile to start a family. Our daughter Ashley was born in 1997. She always had good reports from her doctor and it was awhile before we knew something was wrong. She said a few words. like mama and daddy, but then did not say them again for months.

She was learning a little bit of language, but quickly fell behind for her age in that area. There were some signs that we totally missed because knew nothing about autism. Those signs included the lack of eye contact, hand twisting, spinning, tantrums and lack of sleep. We did get worried about her lack of language and voiced our concerns to her doctor at her checkup. Her doctor said that it was normal for some children to talk very late and that she was fine.

I asked when we should bring her back for another checkup and was told to bring her back in one year. We followed the doctor's directions. When we took her back for her annual checkup we again voiced our concern that she was only saying a couple words and appeared to be very far behind. The doctor said that she did not think there was anything to worry about, but to make us feel better she would give us referrals for a speech and hearing evaluation.

Ashley had to go through several hearing tests. She was sedated for an auditary brain response. Her hearing was fine. The speech therapist was not sure what was wrong and referred us to an evaluation center.

At age 3 1/2 Ashley was diagnosed with autism. We began educating ourselves on the Story of Autism and its treatments.

The first thing we wanted to do was start speech therapy. Our insurance turned us down and we did not have the money to pay for it. I read that early intensive ABA therapy had reclaimed some children. However, insurance did not cover that either and it cost more than we made at the time. I was at a loss on how to help her.

Our state has a first steps program. But she was already too old for it. We enrolled her in our public school system's Pre-K program when she was 4 years old to get free speech therapy through the special education system. It was not the type of therapy that she needed, but the only thing we could give her.

Occasionally I was able to get her into a waiver program with Medicaid benefits. Ashley had some extra speech therapy on and off since then. We had her re-evaluated a few years later to see how much she had improved. We were told that the diagnosis of autism still fits and in addition to that label they added the label of mental retardation. We were told that she must learn slower because she was so far behind for her age. They said that she will never be independent and will always need some type of services.

We had heard of the gluten-free casein-free diet and how some children had recovered with it. I found all the information that I needed to start the diet on the Talk About Curing Autism website. We were not successful in implementing it. Ashley was so set in her ways by then. She was pushing other children at school and trying to take their lunch from them. She did not understand why she had to eat only a lunch from home and why she could not eat the pizza that everyone else was eating. We gave up. I do not know if it would have helped her or not.

There have been other challenges along this journey. She had her first seizure at 9 years old, which landed her in the hospital for a few days. The seizure could have been life threatening. It did not stop until she was given medication. By that time she was so unresponsive, she looked like she was in a coma. The doctor said that Ashley had almost completely stopped breathing. She was checked for brain damage. There was none. Ashley has had more seizures since then, but not as bad as the first one. She takes a lot of medication every day for seizures, behavior and sleep.

There are times when we get discouraged when we reflect on Ashley's Story of Autism. I often wonder if it was my fault. Did I use too many household cleaners while I was pregnant? What about the cold medicine I took that one time? I have a really bad cold which caused my asthma to flare up. I had to use the inhaler once. I called the doctor before using it. She did not say it was safe. She did say if I can not breathe, then the baby could not. I know many children have autism and their mothers did not all use inhalers. I know it does not fault, but can not help sometimes having thoughts like that.

When I see the videos of children that have recovered I am very happy for them, but at the same time it really hurts. I can not help but feel we have not done enough to help her. One thing that helped me when I was discouraged, was an article on the Talk About Curing Autism website entitled, “Does The Window Ever Close?”

At the time of this article, Ashley is 13 years old. She is very happy. She enjoys art, stuffed animals, the computer, pre-school age shows on TV and You Tube. She is still in the special education class at school and receives in home speech therapy twice a week. She is somewhat verbal. She can ask for things verbally, but can not carry on a conversation. She does not comment or ask questions. At age 13, she is still not fully potty trained, although she has made a lot of progress in this area. She has sensory issues which keeps her very limited to which clothes she will wear.

It breaks my heart that we were not able to provide the early intensive intervention that she needed. She shows a lot of potential and I believe that ABA therapy would have made a huge difference. She could have been one of the success stories. We certainly need to have more autism awareness and earlier diagnosis, so other families will be able to get the help they need as soon as possible.

If autism has touched your life, I would love to connect with you.

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The Language of Music: Helping Develop Communication Skills With Musical Theory

According to Victor Hugo “Music expresses that which can not be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” While music is an expression of emotional and artistic value, it also helps form the building blocks of our ability to communicate. Singing to young children seems to come naturally to parents but even our one-sided conversations with young children take on unique tonal variations, ie 'baby talk'. For many on the autism spectrum and other non-verbal learners, developing an understanding of musical theory may also help foster core communication skills.

The A, B, C's

Western musical theory makes use of the A, B, C pattern to label the tons that make up an octave. The act of working with these symbols, pairing them with other indicators, ie musical notes and arranging them in stylized patterns mirrors typical skills associated with early grammar.

Spelling Words

Musical notation is conveniently divided into measures or bars. While these all contain a certain number beats, developing the skill of reading music involves combining these variables (or notes in each measure) and executing the response. Students of music will understand that when you encounter the notes C, E and G, you execute a C Major chord without consciously identifying each note. In other words, we all had to be taught to identify certain combinations of letters and then read them without breaking down each letter or syllable. Reading and playing music follow these same principles.

Forming Sentences

Not unexpectedly, if each measure is comparable to a word, then reading multiple measures can be viewed as a reading a sentence. Reading musical notation also follows the 'top left – to bottom right' sequence used in western grammar. Students and connoisseurs of Bach will note that later, advanced music often has multiple “voices” which can each be seen as simultaneous sentences being activated or played by the musician (s).

Conjugate the Verb

Music, as with grammar, has its own series of rules and standards. Codas, sharps, flats, repeats, rests and other concepts can be done but eventually become second nature. I would be hard-pressed to recall each and every grammatical rule concerning verb conjugation, yet the knowledge is expressed in the execution.

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Awareness for Autism: Families Spreading the Word

It's all about giving children in the autistic community the best possible future by taking the initiative in finding a cure.

Let's start by talking about autism. What is it?

In 1970, it affected 1 to 2 children per 10,000. Today, the CDC estimates it affects 1 in 150 children. In the United States, experts are diagnosing it in children, between the ages of 18 months to 5 years, every 20 minutes.

Often, children develop normally in their first year of life. Some can not speak or live on their own. It affects learning, behaviors, social skills and has been found to be more common in boys. With early diagnosis, treatment and speech therapy makes it possible to help children affected to lead typical lives. Unfortunately, not everyone receives a diagnosis early enough to enjoy this opportunity.

Autism affects motor skills, pain sensitivity and lack of imagination. Other practices can include repeating words, difficulty in communicating needs, tantrums and food allergies. Many more symptoms can be found by consulting with your doctor. Support services, early intervention and medical assistance can provide hope because some children can recover from many of these symptoms.

Remember, this is only general information. Nothing in this article should be interpreted as medical advice. Only your doctor can do that.

Today, many people are proactively helping the autistic community. One of the ways they're accomplishing this is by connecting each other all over the world on the internet.

Positive thinkers constantly talk about a cure and would not it be wonderful if it was discovered? We all know that it takes money to conduct ongoing research in our society. When you combine that with the fact that some people require lifelong care costing a few million dollars, the need for assistance is loud and clear.

When children have been diagnosed, all of their relatives begin to consult with experts. They find online videos for autism knowledge and seek out support. They read everything they can and do whatever it takes to help their child. People are banding together to spread the word and find a cure. Would not it be wonderful to speed up the time from the diagnosis to treatment?

Success stories are created by connecting people and professionals. Inspiration gives others hope. A powerful movement is necessary in order to succeed in discovering a cure. That's why people are spreading the word online.

Finding a cure is a tall order. Many important provisions such as grants, education, mentors, scholarships, etc., must be implemented while the experts do their research. Thankfully, people are dedicated to the cause.

Reach out and communicate in the autism social network. Spread the word!

Where there is help, there is hope.

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Asperger’s Syndrome Treatments – Four Methods To Help Your Child Communicate

Children with Asperger's syndrome and / or autism often need treatments to help them improve their communication skills either because they do not speak well or do not speak at all. It can be the most frustrating thing in the world to want to communicate with your child but not be able to. This is obviously very frustrating for the child as well because all of their wants, needs, and feelings are going unexpressed. This can lead to acting out and other behavior problems.

Fortunately, there are methods to improve communication skills for those with autism and Asperger's syndrome.

1. Sign language

Some people advocate teaching nonverbal kids and adults sign language. Often, they will be able to communicate with their hands what they can not with their voice. Some parents resist this, thinking that if they teach their kid how to sign, and he or she has a little bit of language, the kid will use the sign language as a “crutch” and never make the effort to speak. This is not a valid argument, because verbal speech is a real effort for these kids, if they're able to even do it at all. Would not you rather have your child have some way of communicating his basic needs to you than none at all?


PECS stands for the Picture Exchange Communication System.

Kids are taught to point to pictures of things they want, or pictures that show how they are feeling. They are given rewards for pointing out pictures of something they want. For example, if they want a drink, they will be shown a picture of water, and if they give the picture of water to the adult, they will be given a reward.

After a while, they will learn to use the PECS pictures to communicate their needs and feelings. Usually, a binder with symbols and pictures with words that are appropriate to the child is created and transported everywhere, so that the child has a means of communication.

3. Facilitated communication

Facilitated communication is a type of communication where the person is able to type their thoughts, often with the support of another person supporting their arm. Many completely nonverbal kids are able to communicate for the first time using facilitated communication.

A lot of kids and adults will be able to type completely independently, but some can not. Because of this, facilitated communication is a somewhat controversial method. Some people believe that the person is not actually communicating, but the people supporting them are. However, there are many people who are able to type independently – some of what have made videos to prove this – and they seem to give validity to this method.

Another interesting device is called a Lightwriter. These have a small keyboard with a speech synthesizer. A person types into it, and their words are translated in seconds into spoken speech. It is small enough to carry where you go.

4. Social Stories

One very useful and widely used technique that can help kids with Asperger's – and that does not cost much money – is writing “social stories”.

Social stories are books of some sort that talk about how to do a certain social activity, and provide step-by-step instructions. Kids with Asperger's typically need to see things visually. And they need to refer back to instructions relatively frequently. They also need step-by-step instructions. All of these components fit together very well for the idea of ​​a social story.

You can create your own social stories or buy pre-made ones for common situations. The more your child understands what to expect, the better he or she will function. Social stories work because they take common social events and break them into the smallest of steps. Simply telling the child what will happen is often not enough though; he needs to be able to look at it. If the information is in a book, he or she can read it over and over again at their leisure, and slowly, understanding will dawn.


Kids with Asperger's and other autism spectrum disorders often have great trouble communicating … to the point of being completely nonverbal. This is frustrating for all involved. But luckily, effective Asperger's syndrome treatments exist to help many of these symptoms and improve the speech and communication deficiencies of children on the autism spectrum.

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A Common Asperger’s Syndrome Symptom Is Meltdowns – 7 Tips for Avoiding Meltdowns in Stores

There are many troubling symptoms of Asperger's syndrome, but perhaps one of the most frustrating can be when your child has trouble in public places, such as a store. If you are the parent of someone with Asperger's, you probably already know what I mean. Trying to bring your child to the grocery store can be a nightmare, because they either dart all over the place looking at things and will not stay with you, or they get so terrified they will not even walk or move.

Add that to the tantrums that so often happen, the crying, the yelling, the occasional throwing of grocery items around, and it's enough to make any parent run for cover. Other parents are pointing at you, wondering why you can not control your child. So what should you do?

First Step: Understand the Causes of Asperger's Meltdowns

Well, the first step is to understand why this behavior is happening. The culprit here, more likely than not, is sensory issues. Consider how much is going on in your typical chain grocery store. There are incredibly bright lights, loud noises from the dinging of the check-out counter, lots of people everywhere, talking and making various types of noise. There is the sound of the squeaky wheels on the shopping cart; lots of movement; and lots of visual stimulation.

There is way too much going on. This complete sensory overload is often too much for your child to process at once. This is what can lead to loss of control and tantrums.

Seven Tips for Success in Stores

  1. Select the Right Store . Consider what will be the best store to fit your needs. For example, if you need to go to the grocery store, sometimes there is more than one near you. Maybe one of the stores is smaller and less busy than the others, even if it is a little out of your way.
  2. Bring a Distraction . Try to bring anything that might distract your child when shopping. A hand-held video game, a book, or some other kind of game that they enjoy, sometimes. Anything that can take their attention off the chaos around them.
  3. Timing is Everything . Try to go in the early morning or late at night when the store is likely to be less crowded and less noisy. Ask the manager when the quietest times of day tend to be. Avoid going right after the work day ends, as that often can be the busiest time.
  4. Headphones Can Help . Bring headphones for your child to block out the noise. They can either be special noise-lowering headphones, or regular ones connected to his favorite music on a CD player or MP3 player. The music will provide a calming stimuli for your child to focus on rather than the store. Earplugs are also a cheaper, low tech way to help decrease the noise levels.
  5. Make a social story . Social stories are a way of modeling events that will happen so kids with Asperger's will understand what is happening next. Draw pictures of you shopping and your child walking along you by the cart. Write a storyline that goes along with it. “Mark will walk calmly by the shopping cart while Mommy does the shopping. If he starts to feel overwhelmed, he can put his headphones on. Mark will not run away from the cart, or scream if he is unhappy. if something is bothering him. ” And so on, to try to give a visual and written representation of what the expectations are going to be.
  6. Reward Good Behavior . Allow your child to pick out a small toy, gift or food item that they particularly like at the end of the shopping trip. This will give them something to look forward to and make the misery of the trip a little less pronounced for them. It can also be a motivator for better behavior (although you should know, some kids, depending on where they are in their development, simply can not help becoming overwhelmed and falling apart in such environments.)
  7. Avoid the Store Entirely . If all else fails, consider online shopping when you can! This may not be very practical for grocery stores – unless you live in an area big enough where local stores will deliver! – but can be very useful for a variety of other needs. You can get a lot of grocery items and just about anything else you need on the site. Shipping is free if you buy $ 25 or more, and if you use Amazon a lot, you can pay one year price that will allow you to receive everything you buy within two days of time for free.

It can be very overwhelming to take your child shopping – not only for them, but for you too! Hopefully these tips can make it a little easier. Sensitivity to sounds and visual stimuli are two of the most common symptoms of Asperger's syndrome, but with a few pointers, this does not have to get in the way of your child's ability to agree well in public forever.

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Asperger’s Syndrome In Children – An Innovative New Treatment Called Floortime

There are many possible avenues to choose from when one is considering a treatment for a child with Asperger's syndrome (sometimes referred to as Asperger's disorder or pervasive development disorder). Some treatments are valid, some are not; some are based on medication or nutrition, and others on behavior modification. It is up to each parent and their child's doctor to choose the best treatment, or combination of treatments, for their child with Asperger's syndrome. One form of treatment that has been getting a lot of attention isly called floortime.

What is floortime?

Floortime is a model of treatment that was developed by Stanley Greenspan. The central idea in this theory is that you should connect with a person with Asperger's or autism at the level they are at – by using any of their interests or abilities that they may have to build a bridge and create a relationship.

Greenspan believes that a lot of the shortcomings in autism relate from problems in the emotional development of kids with Asperger's. If you interact with kids in a certain way, he says, you can help their emotional and cognitive development, and help them to better be part of the world around them.

Floortime is literally just like it sounds. Parents or caregivers get down on the floor and try to engage the child in whatever way they can. If they are playing with a toy, even in a ritualistic and repetitive way, grab another toy and mimic their movements. Copy what they're doing. Find a way to enter their world and make them notice you in a way that allows them to remain comfortable. This works better than trying to force the child into your world and can allow you to gradually help build a relationship.

What is the theory behind floortime?

Greenspan believes that kids with Asperger's are so sensitive to external stimuli at an early age that they block it out and therefore miss out on a lot of learning and early millions that attention to that stimuli would have provided. For example, a mother putting her face near her baby's may be overwhelming, so the infant moves his head; tickling is scary rather than fun. The child starts to disengage from his parents at an early age, not because they're doing something wrong or because of a lack of capacity to feel love, but because of sensory overload.

As a result of this, the child does not learn things from the mother's face and the relationship with the mother that he should, such as empathy, relating to others, and understanding emotions. This leads to difficulty in communication, playfulness, humor and flexibility. But Greenspan believes that the use of floortime can recreate that relationship, and teach the child with autism or Asperger's syndrome all these skills that he missed when he was young; thus paving the way for higher level skills.

How does floortime work?

As mentioned before, floortime is about parents and caregivers finding non-overwhelming ways to engage their kids. Some therapies tell you toget into your kid's face and force them to interact with you. Greenspan believes this will just make them shut down more. So how does this work? If a child will not look at you but instead just flies and lines up cars, get down on the floor and line up cars with him. You are meeting him at his level.

Do not move too fast, or talk; This way the child can feel another person there and begin to understand what interactive play is.

If the child is verbal, ask him questions that require answers. Follow his lead and talk about whatever he is talking about.

Keep it low pressure; just a simple exchange of words.

What is important is that your kid is interacting with you and learning about emotions, about connection and intimacy, piece by piece, while doing so.

What are the main goals of floortime?

The main goals of flotation are to encourage attention and intelligence; to have two-way communication; to have your child begin to express his desires and feelings about what he is doing; and finally to develop logical thought, where the child can connect his play to the world around him, and use it to help make sense of the world.

Floortime can be a useful treatment for children with Asperger's syndrome or autism, especially if used in addition to other Asperger's disorder treatments.

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Asperger’s Syndrome In Children – Avoiding Meltdowns And The Importance Of Routine

The brain of a child (or an adult for that matter) with Asperger's syndrome is a complicated, sometimes mysterious thing. It works in ways that are often difficult to figure out. Why does your child have a tantrum when they can not find their shoes? Why does that employee with Asperger's never understand what I'm saying? What goes on in their head to make them seemingly over-react to so many situations?

One thing that is not difficult to figure out, though, is that a person with Asperger's syndrome has a need for routine. It may seem bizarre at first, to the average person, but if you stop to think a little bit about the way the Asperger's brain works, you'll find that it actually makes sense after all. That does not mean that people with Asperger's syndrome should not try to learn how to be flexible when necessary, but you should try to create a stable routine whenever possible for a person with Asperger's.

Why does a person with Asperger's need routine?

The world of a child, teenager or adult with Asperger's is full of lots of uncertainty and fear. This may be due to their problems generalizing specific events to more general events. For example, if they do well in something one time, in one particular way, they may fail to generalize that to other, similar situations and believe that they can also handle those situations. There is a continual, ever changing parade of variables that keep the person with Asperger's in a state of anxiety.

Weak Central Coherence

This is often called “weak central coherence.” In other words, people with Asperger's have trouble, as the metaphor goes, “seeing the forest for the trees.” They get so focused on the details of each event that they are unable to see it globally, or see the big picture – they lack perspective.

Since details are so overwhelmingly obvious to them, they get distracted when small details are changed. Because of the way they process information and understand the world, it changes their whole meaning and understanding of the world.

As a result, routine becomes increasingly important to the Asperger's child and adult. The more they can do everything in exactly the same way every day, the more their experience of the world will remain the same – and the more stable their mood and level of anxiety will remain.

It's almost like, for the typical person, if you woke up one day and everyone around you was speaking French, and you had to figure out what they meant. Just as you mastered that, you wake up the next day and everyone is speaking German. The third day, Italian. While this is an extreme example, and not completely analogous, the point remains.

Re-arranging Mental Maps

People with Asperger's constantly have to re-arrange and change their mental map of the world. The average person's mental map is loose enough and general enough to encompass most of the events that go on in their day without too much distress. But due to this theory of weak central coherent, the mental map of a person with Asperger's is so detail bound that it is constantly changing – and that is exhausting and frightening. It feels like the earth is moving under you … several times a day.

Sense of Stability

Where do you get your overall sense of stability? The sense that tells you that you will be okay even if things go wrong a little bit? For most people, they have this sense inside of them. It provides a buffer to the constant change and chaos of the outside world.

But for most people with autism, they do not have that sense. Their sense of well-being … or lack of … comes almost entirely from the environment around them. Remember, people with autism also have sensory issues that make them very sensitive to their environment. So if their environment is comfortable and not overwhelming, and all of their other needs are being met, then they are probably going to be doing pretty well.

But the second you make the environment uncomfortable – start playing some loud music, bringing in someone with perfume, put scratchy clothes on them, whatever it may be – that all comes crashing down. Warning bells go off in the brain, and their world is thrown into a state of chaos. Remember, they do not have the global thinking to realize that it will end soon, and they will be okay again. They just know that it feels like the world is ending, because they feel so bad NOW.

So what does this all mean?

Because of the way they process the world, people with autism and Asperger's cravity similarity and routine. This makes their world feel much safer and calmer. You may wonder why they over-react when you change some seemingly small detail of their routine, or make them do something on the spur of the moment; you may think their distress is exaggerated, but it is not. It all comes down to a difference in the way that the brain of a child or adult with Asperger's syndrome processes information.

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Asperger’s Syndrome Symptoms in Adults – Overcoming the Top 4 Challenges Asperger’s Adults Face

Asperger's syndrome symptoms in adults is a topic less often discussed than Asperger's in children – but it is an important topic because kids with Asperger's syndrome grow up and become adults with Asperger's. Asperger's syndrome is a form of high functioning autism. Irrespective of whether or not an adult has been officially diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, many adults know they have it … either from the symptoms they exhibit or from informal tests that they may have seen on a web site or in a book.

Many adults did not have the opportunity to be tested for Asperger's as a child and were never typically diagnosed. Therefore, they did not benefit from early Asperger's treatment or intervention. In many ways, this makes it especially difficult for many adults with Asperger's.

There are many unique challenges to being an adult with Asperger's, from social issues to employment to feelings of self-worth. What does it really feel like to be an adult with Asperger's disorder?

The Top 4 Challenges Asperger's Adults Face

A survey of adults with Asperger's revealed that the following issues loomed largest in the adult with Asperger's syndrome.

1. Employment Issues And Asperger's

Employment is a big issue with adults who have Asperger's. In order to be independent in our society, one usually needs a job. A lot of adults with Asperger's want to be independent and live on their own, but to do so they need to be able to pay the bills. And that means getting a job.

Adults with Asperger's are usually very intelligent and capable people, but they need a compatible environment for them to be able to thrive. What they need is usually not compatible with what most work places require. They need control of their environment; co-workers talking, snapping gum, or playing the radio can drive them to distraction. The lights may be too dim or too bright; perfumes or other smells may beothersome; and in general, there may be too much sensory stimuli in a typical workplace environment to screen out.

Then there is office politics, which is something most adults with Asperger's have problems with, and getting along with others in general. Jobs that require working with the public have their own problems. And even getting past the interview to get the job can be a problem. This is all very frustrating to the adult with Asperger's who just wants to prove that he can make it on his own and feel like he is contributing something to society.

2. Asperger's Syndrome Leads To Feelings Of Inadequacy And Social Anxiety

Often times, adults with Asperger's syndrome have to work twice as hard just to keep up with their normal peers, and often still fall behind. They see their peers getting jobs, living alone, getting married, and having an active social life, and they often feel jealous and a bit bitter if they are having problems in any of those areas. This is not to say that all adults with Asperger's will have these issues, but often issues will crop up in one area or another. There is pressure to compare themselves to others their age, and they always find themselves wanting. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and depression.

They may have a job, but still be living with their parents; or perhaps they have a job and live alone, but still rely on their family for a lot of help with everyday tasks. Keeping an apartment up, cleaning, cooking, and bill paying can all pose challenges, and trying to be social out in the world takes far more energy for an adult with Asperger's than the typical person.

3. Difficulty With Friends And Relationships

Many adults with Asperger's want to have friends, but their lack of social savvy makes it hard to do. Their difficulties in picking up social cues and social anxiety get in the way of having friendships. Romantic relationships are even more difficult. Relationships are hard even for people without Asperger's; there is so much communication and understanding that is required; so much give and take.

These are all things that can be hard for someone with Asperger's. They are not impossible, but they can be difficult. Adults with Asperger's are often lonely due to problems in this area. Social groups and activities with other people who also have Asperger's can less lesser some of this loneliness.

4. Feelings Of Meaninglessness

A lot of adults with Asperger's are just plain brilliant in some areas. They know everything there is to know about the solar system, electronics or some obscure part of history. They like to think deeply. They have things they would like to do with their lives, goals and dreams. Some of them do accomplish these goals with a lot of work. Others are not so lucky.

Sensory issues, a tendency to get easily overwhelmed, or other issues get in the way of them achieving what they would like to. A large number of adults are on disability and can not work. Finding things to fill their time can be a challenge.

They get to a point where nothing in their life has much meaning anymore, because all they're doing is trying to survive. They have no activities that make them feel good about themselves and their place in the world. Again, this does not apply to everyone, but there need to be more programs to address these issues.

There Are Ways To Thrive With Asperger's Syndrome

These are four of the main areas of difficulty for adults with Asperger's. Do not despair, however, because there are ways to address all of these issues, especially if an adult can find a support group and good counseling. The future does not have to be bleak for adults with Asperger's. There just needs to be people and programs in their lives who are sensitive to their needs and can improve the quality of their lives. With treatment, adults can overcome the symptoms of Asperger's syndrome and lead a successful and fulfilling life.

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Asperger’s Syndrome Symptoms in Adults: 3 Tips for Overcoming Depression and Anxiety

One common set of symptoms that many Asperger's syndrome adults have is feelings of depression and anxiety … and a sense of meaninglessness in their lives. Since Asperger's adults have so much difficulty with social activities in their lives, as well as everyday activities and employment issues, sometimes it can seem like nothing ever right. Repeated failure leads to low self-esteem.

If you can not work, what do you do with your time? Even if you can work but you have no social contacts or friends to spend time with, nothing to do that interests you, how do you make your life seem worth living?

Asperger's adults may very well want to participate in all the social activities that the rest of us take for granted, but there is so much that they have to consider that the regular person would never consider.

The symptoms of those with Asperger's syndrome are familiar to family and friends. Many times, people with Asperger's syndrome are not comfortable being spontaneous or doing anything spur-of-the-moment; they need to plan ahead. Noisy, boisterous events are just too overwhelming. Just going out of the house can be a big gamble. Are the sensory aspects of the event worth it? Can I handle it? Will I have a meltdown? Is it worth it? Am I going to be able to seem social enough?

Asperger's Adults Can Be Smart But That Is not Enough

These are very smart people, often with college degrees or even higher; but just because they can work their way around a textbook or a classroom does not mean they can handle the world outside it. Many, but not all, Asperger's adults end up living with their parents, and feelings of resentment build over this. It can be hard to compare yourself to others and not measure up. Depression can set in. Sometimes, it's hard to think of a reason to get up in the morning. If you are someone you know is in this situation, it may be helpful to follow the tips below.

How To Lead a Meaningful Life As An Adult With Asperger's Syndrome

Change your life in small but important ways. Shake it up a little bit. Find ways to deviate from your normal routine so you do not feel so stuck in a rut. Go out to lunch with someone you have not talked to before. Join a club. Volunteer somewhere.

1. Volunteering

The single most important thing you can do to raise your feelings of self-esteem is to volunteer somewhere. It just makes you feel good about yourself! Volunteering can be a great way to meet others and gain some social contacts, and gives you a sense of connection and belonging in your community. When you are appreciated for a job well done, it makes you feel like you made a difference in someone else's life.

Think about what your interests are. If you like working with kids, you can volunteer at an after school program, or a mentor a kid who needs it. You could tutor someone in a subject you know well – finally all that academic knowledge you have stored away will be useful for something! If you like to write, you could volunteer to write for a local newspaper, or start a blog.

You can work in a soup kitchen, do some office work for a non-profit, or volunteer to straighten books on the shelves at your local library. If you like to garden, offer to help out an elderly person with their yard. The possibilities are numerous.

2. Hobbies

Another way to add some spark into your life is to try to take up a hobby. Something you can become enthusiastic about, something that you can look forward to. For example, if you like taking pictures, get a camera and start snapping shots of everything you can think of. Publish your best shots online. Learn how to cook, or get into reading. Start exercising; perhaps you could join others for daily walks or even join a sports team.

3. Groups

To get a sense of meaning in your life you must gain some feeling of social connection. To this end, it can be very helpful to join social groups centered around your interests. Maybe you enjoy chess? Writing? Photography? Try to find local groups that you may enjoy. One way that you can do this is to use the website Or join an Asperger's group and meet people you can refer to.

The best way to make your life feel more meaningful is to work around the obstacles and limitations you have in your life as best as possible. If you think something is impossible, it may not be with a little accommodation. Do not be afraid to ask for help or modification of activities to fit your needs. Just try to get involved in something. You will find yourself looking forward to it, and it will get your mind off your worries. Do not focus on the symptoms of Asperger's syndrome or the treatments but focus your efforts on accomplishing something worthwhile.

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Asperger’s Syndrome Symptoms and Adults: 6 Tips for Finding Support and Services

You may find yourself wondering about services for people with Asperger's syndrome, especially if you have an adult child who exhibits Asperger's symptoms and who needs some extra help. What services are available to help the post 21 crowd who have worked out of all the services available for children with Asperger's syndrome? How are they going to live independently? Will they be able to get a job? Will they be able to make enough money to live on? Here are some things you might want to look into.

Asperger's Syndrome Adult Needs

First, though, a brief overview on what the most common needs of adults with Asperger's syndrome are.

  1. Social – most adults with adults with Asperger's are very isolated due to the problems they have forming peer relationships. Worries and problems seem so much more overwhelming without support from another person.
  2. Financial – many people with Asperger's can not work or can not earn enough to meet their financial needs.
  3. Housing – some people with Asperger's need help paying for housing, and others need supported housing, where there will be staff members on call to help with their various needs.
  4. Household tasks – Simple, everyday household chores and tasks can be very overwhelming to people with Asperger's They worry a lot about how to do something, what order to do it in, and have problems remembering to do it. Organizational problems are common with people who have Asperger's.
  5. Transportation – A lot of adults with Asperger's do not drive, due to sensory concerns and cognitive processing issues. Buses are not always feasible either, due to anxiety or sensory issues, and some areas do not have bus service.
  6. Budgeting – Many people with Asperger's have trouble making and sticking to a budget. They need help figuring out how to pay their bills and manage their money.
  7. Nutrition – Some people with Asperger's need help planning and making nutritious meals. They may tend to eat chips or snack food for meals if not given some guidance on how to cook or prepare more appropriate meals. Not all people with Asperger's will have this problem, but some will.

Services Available

  1. State developmental disability programs. These can be hard to get into. Often you need to have been disabled before a certain age, and to have an IQ at a certain, usually low, level. If you do get accepted, you will get services related to all of the above; help with daily living tasks, household chores, counseling, employment services, budgeting help, transportation help, and supported housing if you need it.
  2. Private organizations . Some private organizations do most of what the state organizations do, but also have stringent entrance requirements. These are usually paid for by Medicaid. Many offer sheltered workshops or other employment services for adults with disabilities to work in.
  3. Food stamps . If your income level is below a certain amount, then you can get food stamps. These will help you buy food for the month. How much you get differs from state to state and also according to if you have any kids or other members of your family. Call the Department of Human Services in your city and state and they will be able to direct you to the appropriate
  4. Section 8 Housing . If you need help paying for a place to live, you can apply for a Section 8 Housing voucher. The waiting lists for these vouchers are usually quite long, unfortunately. But once you get one, they can be a big help.
  5. Medicare and Medicaid . Both of these are national health insurance programs that can assist you in paying for medical needs if you are either have low-income or are disabled. This can help you pay to go to the doctor, prescriptions, and hospital stays.
  6. Social security benefits . Many people with Asperger's are eligible for disability benefits. This can help people with Asperger's who are not able to work lead an independent life.

Many of these services and programs can be very useful for people with Asperger's who need a little bit of help with their everyday living needs.

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Autism 101 – Choosing Your Battles With Your Autistic Child

Children with autism interpreted the world much differently than children without it. They have their own unique way of coping with sensory inputs as well as things like communication. To add to the uniqueness they experience as a result of having autism, each child will also have their own level of uniqueness.

In fact, just like any other child, no two children with autism will be the same. That does not mean they can not learn and cope with the same methods, it just means how it affects them will differ from child to child.

Autistic children may have a specific type of textured food they eat. This can be frustrating to the parent, especially if there are siblings, but sometimes it is easier to pick your battles. Instead of having a daily meltdown over what foods you are serving, it may be simpler to just make the foods they will eat and serve that to them at least. Accommodating our children from time to time will reduce the stress that they are under, not to mention our own.

Another way we may need to be accommodating is when things are going to change. Where most children will adjust to changes in routine with relative ease, our automatic children may have severe difficulties in coping, and therefore need much more time and a lower approach to changes.

Sometimes as parents we just need to pick our battles, and when our battles are against children who interpret and have difficulties with the world around them, some times it is just easier on all involved to give in and let them have the control they need in their lives to survive.

We are not going to die if all they want to eat is smooth foods and neither are they. It will not hurt us to slow down a bit on the changes in our lives to make them easier on our children. It could also help us to slow down and take a look at the world around ourselves. Helping them can in the end help ourselves on more levels then one.

Our autistic children may interpret the world around them differently, but sometimes slowing down and taking a look at life from their perspectives can help us cope with daily living as well. Our children are trapped in their world's, why not stop the fighting and join them from time to time?

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Autism 101 – Common Therapies Used For Autism

Autism affects each child differently. Some children with autism can live in mainstream society with very little struggles or disruptions to their daily lives. It is not that way for all children though. Some children have severe difficulties even coping with life. Their senses overwhelm them, their problems keep their daily lives and the lives of those who care for them and living in general is just plain difficult.

It does not have to be that way though. In fact with modern treatments, many children can reach a level of normalcy and reduce the challenges of living with autism.

One such method is occupational therapy. No, this does not mean helping them find a job, it means providing therapy for them that will help them with their daily tasks. This method of therapy can help them learn toope in the world around them, and can give the child a sense of control and empowerment that they may not have had previously.

Another therapy that can help is speech therapy. Since many autistic children have little to no communication skills, this can be a vital part of helping your child cope. And for some children, it even gives them back their own voices and vocabularies that autism may have robbed them of.

Another helpful tool if speech therapy is not working, is teaching the child sign language. This can give a child who has no voice a method to communicate. A method to verbalize with the world their wants and needs. It can be an asset for all children with autism to learn to sign, in case at some point in the future
they stop talking altogether.

Play therapy can be a wonderful tool as well. Getting down to the ground level and letting them bring you into their world of play can be a great learning tool. It can help them learn to interact socially as well as show you ways that you can interact with them, that will not upset them or cause a meltdown.

As with any disability, there is hope for children with autism. They do not have to remain locked in their own little worlds forever. With the proper therapy and help, they can regain their lives and live a much more fulfilling happy life. The above mentioned therapies are just a few of many ways to help your autistic child. Being a supportive and caring parent, with a high level of patience can go a long way to make this world a little more hospitable for your loved one.

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Emotion and Memory: Their Role in Successful Special Needs Activities

“… the brain structures that underlie learning and memory are the very same structures that regulate many kinds of emotions …”

-Ned Kalin, Professor Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin.

A recent piece in New Scientist entitled “Born to laugh we learn to cry” sparked some heated discussion around the office and correlated nicely with an article I was already writing on the effect emotions have upon memory. In “Born to laugh we learn to cry” we are told how a team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics performed a study asking eight deaf individuals and eight with full hearing to vocalize emotions such as fear, anger, sadness, joy, relief and triumph.

Afterwards these vocalisations were played back to a panel of twenty five hearing individuals who were asked to label each of the sounds played back with an emotion.

Upon playing the recordings back to the panel, something interesting soon became identical: without visual cues panel members were only able to correctly identify laughter and signs of relief from the deaf participants with any ease; even sacrifices of terror were less obvious than those who were deaf. Predictably the panel found it much easier to identify those emotions produced by subjects with full hearing (but rather irritatingly the article does not give a figure for how many they were able to identify from this set).

Here recounted a memory which seems to corroborate these finds, concerning a group (and two members in particular) he once worked with. One member (let's call him John) had not spoken in 10 years and was extremely withdrawn. In order to include John in the more musical exercises and group activities Tom began to use a vibrating cushion, behind John's back at first and moving up to behind the head once he was used to the sensations. After several sessions Tom noticed that John had begun to actively seek out the vibrating cushion upon entering the facility. More importantly during the sessions John began to make sounds in time with the vibrations behind his head. Conversations with care staff led to testing and it turned out that John was partially deaf.

Having been provided with a hearing aid John became more and more communicative with his playful personality becoming more interested; in fact he became something of a practical joker as time went on, his vocabulary increased over this period too, 'Toilet' becoming one of his favorite words because of the laugh it often provoked when used. Sadly one member of the group, David, tended to react badly to the new found expressions of John, finding it very difficult to gauge the emotional intent behind many of his expulsions and misinterpreting his loudness as anger.

Disa Sauter the chief scientist of this study suggests that laughter and smiling evolved as obvious outward displays to help avoid confrontation, supporting this claim with the fact that other primates such as gorillas and orang-utans will laugh if you tickle them. However David Ostray from McGill University in Montreal suggests we may simply learn to laugh by observing others as we grow up. Sauter is planning on investigating this in the next round of experiments (I do wonder if this could be proven one way or the other simply by tickling newborn babies, but this would probably be quite difficult to receive approval for).

Autism Spectrum Disorder affects information processing in the brain while impairing social interaction and communication, so this research appears to have a direct correlation to those who work in our field and raises the question, just how emotional displays go unnoticed and unrerecognized? It is perhaps easy for outsiders to assume there's a narrow spectrum of ways to express emotion and that those who do not fit are in some way mentally deficient, strange and unable to experience this state of mind but hopefully in time these finds can go some way to refute this.

A growing body of research is centred on what is known as the 'emotional valence dimension' and the effect it has upon the formation of memory. Simply put: emotions connected to an event with strong emotional connotations will be better remembered than a purely neutral memory. For a long time our understanding of this field was held back by the erroneous supposition that fear was the only emotion with such an effect on memory, we now know however that all emotions have this effect.

Investigations have gone on to show that these strong emotional stimul enhance our memories of the central details whilst impairing our memory of the peripheral details. As time goes on memories for neutral stimuli but memories connected with strong stimuli remain the same or in some cases actually improve. Furthermore it seems we are more easily able to retrieve a memory when in the emotional state in that that particular memory was formed. For example when we're in a good mood we are more likely to remember memories formed when happy, this is known as the 'mood congruence effect'.

Strong emotions then create strong memories, if people are given a safe environment where they can make things happen, create and share emotions in supportive surroundings, then the emotions created there would create shared memories between the client and carer. A set of shared memories such as these can very quickly become the first building blocks to effective interaction between individuals or groups.

This dovetails nicely into the current working model of memory, wherein long term memories are constantly reviewed as time goes on, incorporating what we learn from that memory from other sources (such as other people). These conscious long-term memories have been shown to be associative in nature, merging it with other memories we have on file as the brain makes connections between the two. Long term memories are not written in stone once formed, but instead are ever shifting, changing in ways we may not even realize.

Why is this interesting? Well I for one think this has a direct application in care. If Disa Sauter's conclusions are true it would seem certain emotions are hardwired into our brains from birth (such as happiness) and so in theory memories connected with these 'primary emotions' should be the easiest to retrieve. It does not seem much of a stretch to assume that settings which elicit positive emotions would exploit the 'mood congruence effect' and thus be more effective. And because the memories we form are always changing, there's always room for greater advancement!

The most important thing we can do is not to accumulate we know how someone is feeling, but learn to recognize and correctly identify the emotions displayed by those we care for. We all know deep down that happy individuals make greater progress, but its nice to have some scientific proof to back it up!

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The Autism Challenge

Austism is a challenge faced by millions of people, a challenge of tremendous significance to our collective futures, a challenge that is essentially of pandemic proportions, the challenge posed by the condition known as Autism.

Autism, a word that officially became part of my family's life in February of 2008, with the “diagnosis” of our 3 year old son. It really looks our family to it's very core.

While the condition is mentioned fairly often today, there is very little media discussion about the latest “facts”. A special thanks goes out to a terrific friend and mentor for his research and support.

For your contextual knowledge, please review the following:

  • Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that typically lies through a person's lifetime.
  • It is a part of disorders known as the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The spectrum has broad ranges across multiple varieties.
  • Autism occurs in all racial, ethnic, and social groups and is four times more likely to strike boys than girls.
  • Autism impairs a person's ability to communicate and relate to others. It is also often associated with rigid routines and repetitive behaviors.
  • More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than AIDS, diabetes, and cancer COMBINED. A recommended and highly effective treatment for children diagnosed with autism is a strict Gluten and Casein-free (GFCF) diet.
  • A leading theory is that individuals with autism have sustained damage to the intestine (“leaky gut”) that prohibiting gluten and casein from being digested normally. Gluten and Casein form substances that act like opiates in their bodies. “Leaky Gut” causes immediate release through the intestinal wall where Gluten and Casein travel immediately to the brain.
  • These opiates dramatically affect the individuals behavior.
  • The latest statistics show that 1 in 110 children will be diagnosed with Autism. (Note: there are calculations that say 1 in 93) 1 in 70 boys will be diagnosed. (Note: there are calculations that say 1 in 53) A new case will be diagnosed almost every 20 minutes.
  • Autism costs the United States over $ 35 billion per year, a figure expected to increase significantly in the next decade.
  • There has been a 600% increase in the last two decades. (Yes, 600%)

The causes of Autism are a source of much debate and controversy. It is indeed a very complex puzzle with theories ranging from genetics to vaccines to the withholding of parental affection. I have my own opinion on a correlation between vaccines and the issue.

There is not a documented and validated “cure”. However, consistent therapy and other nutritional actions can have a sustainable impact.

The experience with my son has taught me many things about life, about how to be a better father, how to enable greatness for my children, how to be a stronger leader for my family, how to face a considerable challenge.

The following comments are truly “Lessons From My Son”:

When faced with a challenge, Your FAITH will be rewarded – God has a way of sending messages to us when we least expect them. For about 6 months after the diagnosis, we experienced the full range of emotions – denial, sadness, anger, confusion, calm, etc. However, we held strong to our belief in The Creator. Our Faith was extremely rewarded when our son painted this image in school … as a 3.5 YEAR OLD. It was a “gift” from our son to his loving parents and to the world.

It was inspired by the Great Spirit as a message that our son was brilliant, that the labels of society were insignificant, that we were making progress, and that our boy's future was bright. A special “Guardian” from above would ensure our son's greatness. An amazing friend once told me to see these special moments as “trophies” given to us by The Father in recognition for our faith and good works.

I have seen every point of progress, every word spoken, every hug, every sign from above as a Trophy, something to always be cherished and be thankful for. Please see the positive moments in your life as fuel for achieving YOUR destiny. When faced with a challenge, avoid making comparisons to others, focus on your situation – Many of us look at the “good fortune” of others when we have a roadblock.

These comparisons only serve to degrade our spirits and absolutely, take away from the greatness ahead of us. We need to be happy for others while focusing on our own situation and actions. My family was comfortable with our son's glorious gifts and stayed relentlessly focused on his progress. When faced with a challenge, remember that “Your resolve is greater than your circumstances”.

Do not ever underestimate your capacity to withstand tough times or your potential to rise above the circumstances. Draw upon your self-confidence as well as those that you love to give you courage. Lao Tzu's quote is timeless – “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” Since we were fighting for our son's future, for the legacy of our family, we leaned into multiple therapies that methodically addressed our son's issues, step by step. His therapists have been incredible. The supplements have made a difference. My wife has been an amazing rock for the family. So how can you help in the movement to address Autism? There are several ways for you to make a difference.

Build Your Knowledge – Ensure that you are well versed on the topic. Share your insights with others, especially those with young children or about to have a child. “Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew” by Ellen Notbohm is a 108 page summary that is very powerful.

Be A Resource- If you know someone with a child that has Autism, be there for them. Let them know that you care by providing moral support, praying for them, and sharing in the life of their child. My wife and I were blessed to have family and friends that wrapped their arms around both of our boys. On a personal note, my parents and brothers have made a big difference for me in this journey. Also, realize that there are many adolescents and young adults that are on the Autism spectrum. Many of them are driving forward courageously through their challenge and leveraging their strengths. These young people will positively impact the future of our world. If you know of one, support him / her to achieve their dreams. We will all be enriched.

Do not Judge Behavior – There have been times when my son has acted out in public against his affliction. Some people have looked at us with an understanding glance while others were obviously judging my child. They made themselves look incredibly insensitive. The old biblical saying that warns against judging until we have “walked a mile in a person's shoes” really does apply in these instances – trust me.

Serve As An Advocate – Please ensure that our school boards, our elected officials, and our community leaders are committed to improving the effectiveness of our school systems on this topic. Too many children are marginalized in systems that do not understand their challenges or appreciate their gifts. We have been blessed that every one of our son's teachers has been amazing. However as an additional challenge, there are still many states and insurance companies that provide sub-optimal benefits support. Please push for insurance insurance reform legislation with your representatives.

Donate Money To The Cause – There are dire financial needs in the efforts to solve the Autism puzzle. The funds allocated for Autism Research by our government have ranged from 80-120 MM (approximately.3% of the National Institute of Health budget) dollars a year with about another 45-50MM driven by significant efforts by private agencies. Certainly, large amounts of money but not enough to address an issues of these staggering proportions (remember 1 in 110 children). If you are inspired to donate, there are terrific organizations like The Thoughtful House, Autism Speaks, and the Autism Research Institute that are making great progress. My family has been blessed to have had the financial resources to support our son. However, there are so many that can not provide the support necessary for their children.

The cause needs your help. Thank you for your time and attention. Our son is progressing by leaps and bounds as he is now in grade school.

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Autism 101 – Your Autistic Child And Sleep

Ask any parent how they slept last night and you're sure to get some who grumble about the kids waking up, or not sleeping, or getting up too early. Ask the parent of an autistic child, and the answer is almost certain that they did not have a good night sleep. Night terrors, waking to early, being too wounded up, and the list goes on. Autistic children, for whatever reason, seem to have great difficulties falling asleep and staying asleep.

There are some ways you can help get yourself and your child a good nights rest.

Avoid stimulating food and drinks 2 hours before bedtime. Sugar can over excite autistic children way more than other children. Avoiding these things can help them get a good night sleep.

Help your child relax before bed. A nice warm bath, or some quiet activities can help. Avoid things like the television and other things that can kick them before bed.

To help them maintain their sleep, ensure there is a heavy, room darkening curtain on the window. Place thicker carpets on their bedroom floors to help insulate against noise.

You can also try a bed tent. Having a very dark, quiet comfort place to sleep can help minimize how often they wake up.

Another option is to utilize a weighted blanket. The comfort of the weight on them will prevent or minimize movement while they sleep and allow them to get a better nights rest.

Utilize light therapy. During the early hours of the day, get them as much light and sunlight as possible. This will help their own bodies realize and distinguish night and day, which can make sleeping at night better.

Turn on the white noise. If they are waking started to household noises turn on some white noise for them. Once they become accustomed to the white noise it will play it's part in keeping them sleep and not waking up to other noises.

And lastly, you can try melatonin. This is what your body naturally makes to tell itself when to be wake and when to be sleep. Speak to your health care professionals before using this to ensure your child is receiving the correct dose.

If all else fails, try alternating with your partner or spouse as to who will get up each night with your child. This can help allow each person a night of rest, while the other tend to your child's needs.

Sleep is something we all need and tend to enjoy. Doing what you can to help your autistic child sleep, will help you get your own good nights sleep.

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