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HHS Announces Appointment of New Membership and New Chair for the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee

28 Oct

The Secretary of Health and Human Services has selected and seated a new Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee. The press release is below.

HHS Announces Appointment of New Membership and New Chair for the Interagency Autism
Coordinating Committee

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced the appointments of new
and returning members to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), reauthorized under
the Autism CARES Act. After an open call for nominations for members of the public to serve on the
committee, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia M. Burwell, appointed this group of
individuals to provide her with advice to advance research, strengthen services, and increase
opportunities for people on the autism spectrum. The public member appointees include three adults
on the autism spectrum, several family members of children and adults on the autism spectrum,
clinicians, researchers, and leaders of national autism research, services, and advocacy organizations.
Many of the appointed individuals serve dual roles, dedicating their professional careers to helping
people on the autism spectrum because of their personal experiences with autism spectrum disorder
(ASD). The first meeting of the new committee will take place on November 17, 2015 in Rockville,
Maryland.

In addition to the new public members, the IACC will have a new chair when it reconvenes. Dr. Thomas
Insel, who served as the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and as Chair of the
committee for more than a decade, announced his planned departure for Google Life Sciences in at the
end of October 2015. Dr. Bruce Cuthbert, who will become Acting Director of NIMH on November 1,
has been appointed to serve as the IACC Chair over the next year.

Autism research, services, and advocacy organizations represented by new and returning appointees to
the committee include: Association of University Centers on Disabilities, Arc of the United States, Autism
Science Foundation, Autism Speaks, Autism Society, Simons Foundation, and Autistic Self Advocacy
Network. Federal departments and agencies represented on the committee include several agencies
within HHS: Administration for Children and Families, Administration for Community Living, Agency for
Healthcare Research and Quality, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Medicare &
Medicaid Services, Food and Drug Administration, Health Resources and Services Administration, and
National Institutes of Health; as well as Department of Education, Environmental Protection Agency, and
Department of Defense .

The responsibilities of the committee include annually updating the IACC Strategic Plan for ASD,
preparing an annual summary of advances in ASD research, monitoring federal ASD activities, and
providing guidance to the HHS Secretary on matters related to ASD.
The public members appointed by the Secretary to serve on the renewed IACC are:

David Amaral, Ph.D.
Dr. David Amaral is a new public member of the IACC. He is a Professor of Psychiatry, Behavioral
Sciences and Neuroscience at the University of California, Davis. He is also Chair of the Beneto
Foundation, Founding Research Director of the UC Davis MIND (Medical Investigation of
Neurodevelopmental Disorders) Institute, and Director of the Autism BrainNet. Dr. Amaral conducts
research on the neurobiology of ASD. He received a joint Ph.D. in psychology and neurobiology from the
University of Rochester and carried out postdoctoral work at Washington University in neuroanatomy.

James Ball, Ed.D., B.C.B.A.-D.
Dr. Jim Ball has served on the IACC as a public member since 2012. He is a Board Certified Behavior
Analyst (BCBA-D) and President and CEO of JB Autism Consulting. He has worked in the autism field for
more than 25 years, providing educational, employment, and residential services to children and adults
affected with autism. He is the Executive Director of the Autism Society’s (AS) Board of Directors. He
received his Doctor of Education degree from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Samantha Crane, J.D.
Ms. Samantha Crane is a new public member of the IACC. She is Legal Director and Director of Public
Policy at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) and an autistic self-advocate. Ms. Crane previously
served as staff attorney at the Bazelon Center of Mental Health Law, focusing on enforcing the right to
community integration as established by the Supreme Court in Olmstead v. L.C.. Ms. Crane holds a B.A.
from Swarthmore College, with high honors, in Psychology, and she received her J.D. degree from
Harvard Law School.

Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D.
Dr. Geraldine Dawson has served on the IACC as a public member since 2012. She is a Professor of
Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the Duke School of Medicine and a faculty member of the Duke
Institute for Brain Sciences. Dr. Dawson also is Director of the Duke Center for Autism and Brain
Development and President of the International Society for Autism Research. Dr. Dawson is a licensed
clinical psychologist and researcher who has published extensively on ASD, focusing on early detection,
intervention, and early brain development. She received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology with a
minor in Child Clinical Psychology from the University of Washington and was a postdoctoral fellow at
the University of California at Los Angeles.

Amy Goodman, M.A.
Ms. Amy Goodman is a new public member of the IACC. She is the Director of the Arc of the United
States’ Autism NOW Resource and Information Center, which serves the needs of individuals with
autism and their families. She is a self-advocate for individuals on the autism spectrum and holds a
master’s degree in special education from Marshall University in West Virginia.

Shannon Haworth, M.A.
Ms. Shannon Haworth is a new public member of the IACC. She is the Public Health Program Manager
for the Public Health team at Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) and a parent of a
child on the autism spectrum. She has a master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis and a graduate
certificate in Autism from Ball State University. She has also earned a Post Baccalaureate Graduate
Certificate in Disability Leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University, is currently a doctoral
candidate (DrPH) studying Public Health at Walden University, and is a certified Early Intervention
Specialist for the state of Virginia.

David Mandell, Sc.D.
Dr. David Mandell has served on the IACC as a public member since 2012. He is an Associate Professor of
Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine. He is a health services
researcher and psychiatric epidemiologist whose work focuses on identifying the best ways to organize,
finance and deliver services to children with autism and other psychiatric and developmental disabilities.
Dr. Mandell holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Columbia University and a Doctor of Science
from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.

Brian Parnell, M.S.W., C.S.W.
Mr. Brian Parnell is a new public member of the IACC. He has led a distinguished career in child welfare
and disabilities services and as an administrator of public and nonprofit agencies, having supervised and
managed social service programs for more than 20 years. Mr. Parnell currently works at the Utah
Division of Services for People with Disabilities, Department of Human Services, and helped develop
Utah’s Medicaid Autism Waiver program. Mr. Parnell is a parent of seven children, three of whom are
on the autism spectrum.

Kevin Pelphrey, Ph.D.
Dr. Kevin Pelphrey is a new public member of the IACC. He is the Harris Professor in the Child Study
Center and Professor of Psychology at Yale University and Director of the Yale Center for Translational
Developmental Neuroscience. He also is the father of two children on the autism spectrum. Dr.
Pelphrey’s research focuses on the development of brain mechanisms for social cognition in children
with and without ASD. He also is the Principal Investigator for a federally-funded multisite Autism Center
for Excellence, “Multimodal Developmental Neurogenetics of Females with ASD.” Dr. Pelphrey received
his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Edlyn Peña, Ph.D.
Dr. Edlyn Peña is a new public member of the IACC. She is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education
Leadership at California Lutheran University (CLU) and is a parent of a child on the autism spectrum. Dr.
Peña’s research focuses on social justice issues for ethnic/racial minorities and students with autism and
other developmental disabilities in higher education. She earned her Ph.D. in Education with a
concentration in Higher Education from the University of Southern California.

Louis Reichardt, Ph.D.
Dr. Louis Reichardt is a new member of the IACC. He is the Director of the Simons Foundation Autism
Research Initiative (SFARI), whose goal is to improve the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of ASD
by funding innovative, high quality research. Prior to this, he was a Professor of Biochemistry and
Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco, where he directed its neuroscience graduate
program and Herbert W. Boyer Program in Biological Sciences. His research has focused on
neurotrophins, a family of proteins that play a key role in brain development and function. Dr. Reichardt
was a Fulbright scholar and earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in
Biochemistry from Stanford University.

Robert Ring, Ph.D.
Dr. Robert Ring has served on the IACC as a public member since 2014. He is the Chief Science Officer
(CSO) for Autism Speaks, the largest autism science and advocacy organization in the U.S. Dr. Ring is
responsible for leading the science program at Autism Speaks, which features a diverse portfolio of
research investments targeting medical research on the underlying biology of ASD, diagnosis, treatment,
etiology, public health, and innovative technologies. Dr. Ring holds adjunct faculty appointments in the
Department of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine (New York) and the Department of
Pharmacology and Physiology at Drexel University College of Medicine (Philadelphia). He holds a Ph.D. in
Molecular Neurobiology from City of Hope National Medical Center in Southern California.

John Elder Robison
Mr. John Elder Robison has served on the IACC as a public member since 2012. He is the Neurodiversity
Scholar in Residence at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, where he teaches
courses on neurodiversity and living with autism. He is an autistic adult who is best known for working
to increase public understanding of autism, and he is the author of several popular books about living
life with autism, including Look Me in the Eye, My Life with Asperger’s, Be Different: Adventures of a
Free-Range Aspergian, and Raising Cubby.

Alison Singer, M.B.A.
Ms. Alison Singer has served on the IACC as a public member since 2007. She is Co-Founder and
President of the Autism Science Foundation, a not-for-profit organization launched in April 2009 to
support autism research by providing funding and other assistance to scientists and organizations
conducting, facilitating, publicizing, and disseminating autism research. Ms. Singer is the mother of a
daughter with autism and legal guardian of her adult brother with autism. Ms. Singer graduated magna
cum laude from Yale University with a B.A. in Economics and has an M.B.A. from Harvard Business
School.

Julie Lounds Taylor, Ph.D.
Dr. Julie Lounds Taylor is a new public member of the IACC. Dr. Taylor is an assistant professor of
Pediatrics and Special Education at Vanderbilt University and an Investigator at the Vanderbilt Kennedy
Center. Her research focuses on factors that promote a positive transition to adulthood for individuals
with ASD and their families, as well as the impact of having a sibling with an intellectual or
developmental disability. She has published research on a variety of autism and disability servicesrelated
issues, including sex and gender differences, peer victimization, transition planning, secondary
education and vocational training, employment, and daily life skills for people on the autism spectrum.
Dr. Taylor earned her Ph.D. in developmental psychology at the University of Notre Dame.

***

The IACC is a Federal advisory committee that was created by Congress in an effort to accelerate
progress in ASD research and services. The IACC works to improve coordination and communication
across the Federal government and work in partnership with the autism community. The Committee is
composed of officials from many different Federal agencies involved in autism research and services, as
well as adults on the autism spectrum, parents and family members of individuals on the autism
spectrum, advocates, researchers, providers, and other members of the autism community. The
documents and recommendations produced by the IACC reflect the views of the Committee as an
independent advisory body and the expertise of the members of the Committee, but do not represent
the views, official statements, policies or positions of the Federal government. For more information on
the IACC, please visit: www.iacc.hhs.gov.

Last Day of Legislative Session – Just Two More Short Calls Needed NOW

11 Sep

Below is an action alert from United Cerebral Palsey and The Arc of California.

PLEASE–Make two phone calls today. Call your state senator and assembly member.
For those who aren’t sure who their state senator or assemblymember is or what their Capitol numbers are, click here.

Details below.

Dear Friends,

The statewide campaign of calling the 26 key legislators was fantastically successful yesterday. We definitely have their attention!

But for today and tonight — the last day of session — we need to switch tactics. Instead of calling the 26, everyone needs to call their own state senator and assemblymember. Every member of the Legislature needs to get calls from his or her own voters NOW!

The message should be short and sweet, such as:

– Give them your name and address so they know you live in the district they represent.
– Thank them for all their support in the past, but tell them we need them more than ever TODAY. Our developmental services system is collapsing and we are desperate!

Call their Capitol offices, not their local district offices. And don’t please don’t call a legislator’s personal cell phone unless you know them very, very well.

For those who aren’t sure who their state senator or assemblymember is or what their Capitol numbers are, click here.

And here’s an encouraging editorial from today’s Sacramento Bee.

Thank you for your advocacy – again today!

Greg

Greg deGiere
Public Policy Director
The Arc & United Cerebral Palsy Collaboration
1225 Eighth Street, Suite 350, Sacramento, CA 95814

More California Advicacy Needed: take 20 seconds to protect services

22 Jun

Take 20 seconds and use the link to send a message to your legislators that we are angry tha the proposed state budget removed the increase for disability services.

Or, take more than 20 seconds and go into more detail about how this “compromise” budget fails to keep the promise we as a state have made to our own.

The letter below is from The Arc & United Cerebral Palsy California Collabortation.

Next step to save our services: more 20-second emails needed

Take Action!
Dear Developmental Disability Community Friends,

If you want to skip the explanations and take more action now to save our community services, just click on the blue “Take Action!” button at the top right of this Action Alert. Then fill in the blanks to send emails to your local state senator and assemblymember.

It will take you about 20 seconds — unless you want to elaborate beyond the short canned email I’ve given you. If you’re distressed or angry about the new state budget that includes zero to top our service system from continuing to disintegrate, as so many people in our communirty are, feel free to say so.

Last time I sent you one of these point-and-click Action Alerts, we generated more than 10,000 emails, going to every one of the 120 legislators. I know firsthand that it got attention. This time, let’s get 20,000.

And now for those who want the explanation – it’s grim, but there’s hope — click here.

Thank you for your advocacy.
Greg

Greg deGiere
Public Policy Director
The Arc & United Cerebral Palsy California Collabortation

Yes, this is a repeat of an article posted over the weekend. But weekends get low traffic and we need to keep this effort moving forward. And I am adding the message I sent my legislators below.

As a citizen (born here!) of California, I made a promise to disabled Californians that I would help support them. I do this with my taxes and have for years.

Now that I have a disabled child, I see that the level of support we offer has been low and recently has been diminishing.

We Californians made a promise, we need to keep it.

I am extremely disappointed with the Legislature for caving in to Governor Brown and passing a budget with not one dime to stop the deterioration of our developmental services.

Please do much, much better in the special legislative session. Give the developmental disability community the emergency 10% across-the-board funding increase we need starting NOW. Anything less won’t stop the service system from collapsing, just slow it down.

And please, don’t pass any more unfunded mandates on our community service providers. When you vote on Senate Bill 3 to raise the minimum wage and any other bills to make our providers spend more, insist that the state cover the full costs to prevent the loss of ever more of our services.

The people who take the front lines in supporting our disabled have one of the most demanding jobs in our State. I started out on the minimum wage and know the limitations of it. I’m support an increase.

Be compassionate with the minimum wage, but understand that we have to realize that this will impact our most vulnerable citizens.

Respectfully Submitted,

Matthew J. Carey

More California Advicacy Needed: take 20 seconds to protect services

21 Jun

Take 20 seconds and use the link to send a message to your legislators that we are angry tha the proposed state budget removed the increase for disability services.

Or, take more than 20 seconds and go into more detail about how this “compromise” budget fails to keep the promise we as a state have made to our own.

The letter below is from The Arc & United Cerebral Palsy California Collabortation.

Next step to save our services: more 20-second emails needed 

Take Action!
Dear Developmental Disability Community Friends,

If you want to skip the explanations and take more action now to save our community services, just click on the blue “Take Action!” button at the top right of this Action Alert. Then fill in the blanks to send emails to your local state senator and assemblymember.

It will take you about 20 seconds — unless you want to elaborate beyond the short canned email I’ve given you. If you’re distressed or angry about the new state budget that includes zero to top our service system from continuing to disintegrate, as so many people in our communirty are, feel free to say so.

Last time I sent you one of these point-and-click Action Alerts, we generated more than 10,000 emails, going to every one of the 120 legislators. I know firsthand that it got attention. This time, let’s get 20,000.

And now for those who want the explanation – it’s grim, but there’s hope — click here.

Thank you for your advocacy.
Greg

Greg deGiere
Public Policy Director
The Arc & United Cerebral Palsy California Collabortation

ASAN Series: JRC Survivor Speaks Out

4 Dec

When this article first appeared here at Left Brain/Right Brain only the first three parts of the 4-part series were online at the ASAN website.  Part 4 is now up and I include it here.

JRC Survivor Speaks Out (Part 4)

The Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) is most infamous for it’s use of electric shocks as a behavior modification method.  But electric shocks are not the only aversive technique they use.  In a four part series, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network presents a rare insider’s view of life at the JRC.   So far three parts have been published.  But rather than wait for part 4, I’ve decided to post links to the articles now.

The series starts with this introduction:

The Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) is a residential facility in Massachusetts where disabled residents are subject to electric shock, sensory assault, food deprivation, prolonged restraint and seclusion, and a host of other horrifying and aversive “treatments.” The United Nations has condemned the JRC’s treatment of its residents as torture, and disability rights advocates have been trying to get the facility shut down for over 30 years. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network has previously published an in-depth piece about the history and practices of the JRC, which you can read here.

This post is the first of a four-part series written by Jennifer, a survivor of the JRC. We are extremely grateful to have her permission to publish this brave account of her own experiences with the so-called “treatments” the JRC provides.

Here are links to the series so far:

JRC Survivor Speaks Out (Part 1)

JRC Survivor Speaks Out (Part 2)

JRC Survivor Speaks Out (Part 3)

JRC Survivor Speaks Out (Part 4)

By Matt Carey

Jerry Seinfeld, still not autistic after all these years

4 Dec

Jerry Seinfeld made a bit of a stir in the autism community recently by stating in an interview that, well, let’s use his own words:

I think, on a very drawn out scale, I think I’m on the spectrum.

This statement caused some excitement in some quarters and some vocal pushback in other quarters.  Well, that and this statement:

But, I don’t see it as dysfunctional. I see think of it as an alternate mindset.

My guess is that this second statement caused much if not most of the pushback that Mr. Seinfeld received.  Why?  Because it says that, say, Jerry Seinfeld can have autistic traits and those traits are not dysfunctional for him.  Much more, people expressed a fear that Jerry Seinfeld (or someone else with little or no disability) would become the face of autism and that the significant challenges faced by many on the spectrum would be ignored.

Looking back at the first statement above, note that we never get to hear what “it” is.  Is “it” autism in general?  Or, is “it” that part of Mr. Seinfeld’s experience that he identifies as being somewhat like autism?  It seemed very clear to me that Mr. Seinfeld was talking about his own experience, but I can see how others might not see it that way.  In which case we as a community should have said, “Hey Mr. Seinfeld, could you clarify that statement?”  Sadly there won’t be a clarification.  Likely because of the pushback, largely from a few vocal parents of autistic children who face extraordinary challenges due to autism (and intellectual disability and other disabilities), Mr. Seinfeld has made it clear that he’s not autistic and stopped the conversation there.  I never thought he was saying he was autistic, hence that whole “very drawn out scale” caveat he put in his initial statement.

In a newer interview, on Access Hollywood,  here (my apologies but the embed code doesn’t seem to be working or I’d have that video embedded here) we hear Mr. Seinfeld put the brakes on the entire Seinfeld/autism discussion.  The “money” quotes from that interview?  From Time Magazine’s article:

“I don’t have autism, I’m not on the spectrum,” theComedians in Cars Getting Coffee star said Wednesday. “I was just watching a play about it, and … I related to it on some level”

To this observer, the interview comes across as though Mr. Seinfeld asked, “Hey, I got myself into some difficulty.  Could you interview me and help me get out of it?”.  Whatever the background, Mr. Seinfeld put a stop to the discussion.

In the end, we as a community lost a potential ally by using his celebrity to air our own dirty laundry.   We are certainly a divided community on a few issues.  The one in particular here is the way in which some people don’t want to accept the fact that autism is a spectrum.  Autistics have varying degrees of challenges, both due to autism and to other conditions (e.g. epilepsy, intellectual disability, anxiety, etc.) that are common within the autistic population.  One reason I don’t particularly like the term “spectrum” is that implies a one-dimensional distribution, a line with those requiring constant support on one side and those who can manage independently on another.  Well that’s not really accurate.  By that model, the students in my kid’s classroom are all in one narrow band of the spectrum.  But they aren’t.  They are each unique in their strengths and weaknesses.  Autism for one is not the same as autism for another.

But let’s get back to that division.  Some people spoke out about a “war” between “autistic self advocates and parents of severely autistic children” and that the autism spectrum should be split.  Others said that were Mr. Seinfeld to become one of the public faces of autism, he (like Temple Grandin, somehow) would be used by officials to downplay the significant needs of those with great challenges and, again, the spectrum should be split.

We are so divided that we need some sort of civil war to divide the spectrum.  Really?  Here’s the thing, we don’t.  There is a large, growing and vibrant community I in invite those who want division to join it.  The founder of this blog, Kev Leitch, understood that.  He understood it when he made Left Brain/Right Brain a group blog with parents, professionals and autistics as contributors.  He understood it when he built a discussion forum which was inclusive.  The people at The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism understood that when they built a community with voices from all over the community.  Their Facebook page has over 108,000 likes at this point.

There is a place for advocates who have a very narrow focus.  Say, only autistics with intellectual disability or only self-advocates.  But when you take that to the level of claiming that we should split the community over some “war”, you are doing harm.  The strongest advocates are those who see beyond their own self interests, who advocate for those in the community whose needs differ from one’s own self-interest (even if that “self” interest is in supporting a loved one).

Or, to put it simply, I expect that self-advocates will support advocacy that directly benefits kids and adults who require 24 hour support, like my kid. Just as I think self advocates deserve advocacy support from parents like myself.

In this whole hullabaloo about Seinfeld and autism I’ve seen some reasonable voices.  I’ve saved them for now.

First, from Jerry Seinfeld and Autism, an article by John Elder Robison (autistic adult) at Psychology Today:

Someone like Mr. Seinfeld – by virtue of his public persona – could easily be seen as a “face of autism,” when in fact we are a very diverse community and many of us want or need far more services and supports than Mr. Seinfeld has so far requested publically. The uninformed public could look at him and say, “autistic people are millionaire comedians,” which is far from accurate. Sure, there are some autistic comedians and some rich ones but most of us are somewhere in the middle. We are all individuals.

Then, from Amy Daniels at Autism Speaks in Celebrate Seinfeld, But Don’t Forget Those Whose Needs Are Great:

So while we celebrate the unique abilities that autism can bring, we must not forget that no one “face” represents autism. We need to remember that around a third of those with autism have co-occurring intellectual disability. A similar number are nonverbal and have tremendous difficulty communicating their thoughts and needs. Thanks to research, we also know that most children and adults with autism have related physical and mental health conditions. These conditions include epilepsy, extreme and chronic anxiety, painful gastrointestinal disorders and disturbed sleep.

We don’t need to fear that the one face of autism will not represent our interests.  We need to make sure that there is no “one face” of autism.  It would have been great if Jerry Seinfeld had been one of those faces.  A face of success (isn’t that what we parents want for our kids?) to serve as a hero for some.  That would not have taken away anything from my kid, as long as we had other faces of autism to represent the whole spectrum.

By Matt Carey

ASAN Series: JRC Survivor Speaks Out

23 Nov

The Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) is most infamous for it’s use of electric shocks as a behavior modification method.  But electric shocks are not the only aversive technique they use.  In a four part series, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network presents a rare insider’s view of life at the JRC.   So far three parts have been published.  But rather than wait for part 4, I’ve decided to post links to the articles now.

The series starts with this introduction:

The Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) is a residential facility in Massachusetts where disabled residents are subject to electric shock, sensory assault, food deprivation, prolonged restraint and seclusion, and a host of other horrifying and aversive “treatments.” The United Nations has condemned the JRC’s treatment of its residents as torture, and disability rights advocates have been trying to get the facility shut down for over 30 years. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network has previously published an in-depth piece about the history and practices of the JRC, which you can read here.

This post is the first of a four-part series written by Jennifer, a survivor of the JRC. We are extremely grateful to have her permission to publish this brave account of her own experiences with the so-called “treatments” the JRC provides.

Here are links to the series so far:

JRC Survivor Speaks Out (Part 1)

JRC Survivor Speaks Out (Part 2)

JRC Survivor Speaks Out (Part 3)

By Matt Carey

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