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  #1  
Old 03-06-12, 07:52 AM
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Teachers with ADHD out there?

I'm not sure if I need advice or if this is just going to be a vent....we'll see where it goes!

I'm in the process of getting a bachelor's degree with certification for teaching elementary/special ed and I'm terrified that I'm making a HUGE mistake. When I started the program, I was super excited but as I get deeper into it, I'm realizing how much paperwork/laws/regulations are involved and that I'm going to have to be VERY organized. I'm scared that I won't be able to handle it all, especially since I will be responsible for it by myself. My original plan was too get my degree and then sort of ease into the profession by trying for a special ed assistant job first.

I'm committed to this degree because I'm in too far to make any changes now but I'm just so scared that I won't be able to do the job efficiently. If there are any teachers out there with ADHD (especially special ed teachers) can you tell me about your experiences, and whether or not the career is working for you??

Thanks!
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Old 03-06-12, 08:10 AM
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Re: Teachers with ADHD out there?

It won't be as bad as you think. Yes there are tons of laws on special education but only a limited amount of them will apply to you at any given time because you will only have a few students. Right now you are just imagining that you will need to know every law all the time when you will likely only need to know a small percentage of them that you will be working under day to day. ADHD and ODD will be the hardest ones to manage because these kids can be difficult.
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Old 03-07-12, 12:07 AM
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Re: Teachers with ADHD out there?

Hi

I am a special education teacher who also has ADD-Inattentive type, with mild hyperactivity. I currently teach preschool special education.

There are times that I question if I can be successful in my job. I am going on 4 years and thought that I might be hitting burn out. I love what I do. There are days that are more challenging than others.

This year, I really struggled at my job because I restarted medications later (Oct) and then they stopped working. I was behind in paperwork, stressed to the max and lucky to make it through the day. It was a constant struggle. I did let my special educator director/school psy know about my dx. She did frequent check ins and worked with me during this time. I sought help and started working with a counselor and a psychtriast. After 2 months, we found somethinng that worked.

As long as I stay on medications, the job is a piece of cake. I use a calendar to keep of any important dates and meetings. The sped law actually is very easy for me. I know the sped law in and out and more than anyone else in my school and I am only in my 4th year. I remember struggling with the laws my first year but it does become easier.

I do agree that students with ADHD and ODD are more difficult. It is frusturating when I am calm but my ADHD students are bouncing off the walls.

thanks
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Old 03-07-12, 02:37 AM
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Re: Teachers with ADHD out there?

I'm an ESL kindergarten teacher. I was getting my degree in Elementary Education when I freaked out about all the rules and paperwork and lesson plans (I can be super organized or totally wing it--but I couldn't do both). I was in my 3rd year when I dropped almost all my classes and swapped my major for my minor so I could still graduate on time, with a degree in Family Psychology and a minor in Elem. Ed.

...and then I spend several years overseas working as an au pair before landing a job as an ESL teacher in a kindergarten in Moscow. (In the Russian system, kindergarten workers need a psychology degree, not an education one.)

I dread going to work, I hate planning lessons, I procrastinate on the gradebook stuff...but during the actual lessons, I'm fine. I have energy when I'm with the kids, and the randomness of every day keeps me engaged. I enjoy working with children and they're very forgiving of my space cadet tendencies.
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Old 03-25-12, 09:56 PM
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Re: Teachers with ADHD out there?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nifferka View Post
I hate planning lessons, I procrastinate on the gradebook stuff...but during the actual lessons, I'm fine. I have energy when I'm with the kids, and the randomness of every day keeps me engaged. I enjoy working with children and they're very forgiving of my space cadet tendencies.
Wow, this describes me exactly! I am "Last minute Lucy" on everything. I forget where I put that form to turn in for such and such. I excel at the actual teaching and meeting my students' needs (based on my performance reviews, comments from my bosses, other teachers and parents, scores, and the growth my students display on end of year versus beginning of year inventory tests), but the remembering deadlines and the paperwork, etc has been a nightmare and only gets worse as I get older! You'd think it gets easier after 18 years. Some parts have gotten easier...it's become more automatic...but my forgetfulness and disorganization just got to too frustrating for me to deal with anymore. I finally went and got diagnosed during spring break of this year. It is the best decision I have ever made! I have always loved teaching, but I am loving it now more than ever!!
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Old 04-02-12, 06:35 PM
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Re: Teachers with ADHD out there?

Me also. I am a 15 year teacher of students, majority of my teaching career has been with children with significant physical and cognitive disabilities, so it's never boring. And in such classrooms time I found I have more flexibility in terms of student schedules and time management of their instructional activities-- but still I struggle.

My diagnosis of ADD, then ADHD came in 2006 when I was finishing graduate school and finally felt like, maybe it's time I can't seem to accomplish so easily what other teachers and people easily could do: school, work, family, raise kids,-- and I had no children of my own and limited family obligations-- plus I was frequently late for work and wondered why I could never seem to be on time- (work problems still to this day for me). But my punctuality and personal time management have a history outside of work-even with social events my friends would get frustrated and actually began "tricking" me by telling me, for example an event was at 7 when it was really at 8 or later. I often would skip and decline social events because I knew already I'd likely be late or get distracted doing other things, like reorganizing a kitchen cupboard when I only had to put away a few dishes.

So what the heck was wrong with me right? I mean I had heard all my life I was spacey (thought maybe it was just because it rhymed with my name), but also that I was weird, not paying attention, seemed bored with people, interrupted, talked incessantly and fast, acted below my age level, sometimes do things fast without thinking, even say things without thinking,- -uh what's that called-- impulsive? lol.. As an adult I guess we are supposed to grow out of it, but I didn't (still struggle) so.. off to a specialist I went.

ADD was the diagnosis, and I thought, the specialist gives everyone that diagnosis right? She's got to be wrong? After all I did well in school all my life,with graduate school being a success for me I began to finally think I might actually be smart. I even had a few friends, and seemed like my family could rely on me-- for little things, but okay-- so ADD it is... my question was answered. But in my head, like maybe a bias/ or inexperienced teacher would think--- kids with ADD/ADHD didn't perform well in school-- often they had learning disabilities, not so "smart". I didn't know any students with ADD/ADHD who appeared to be socially adjusted and did well in school, like could outperform their peers in some areas. So really, me? ADD/ADHD? I cried, part of me thought it meant I was stupid somehow.. and I had just gotten over thinking I was somehow slow compared to my peers-- and other teachers, and just accepting I was weird/different. But now ADHD?? Really-- that explained it.

I confided in an another teacher friend, who had been diagnosed with depression recently, I cried to her telling her how I thought the diagnosis somehow confirmed I was stupid really, that now I know I will never be able to "get it together" like everyone else. The teacher friend, reaffirmed my talents as a teacher and success as learner, and explained to me, "It just means the chemicals you need to "shut down" and organize, your brain isn't producing them, for some reason, so taking the medicine is there to help."

So in the meantime.. while the medicine has curbed the anxiety I experienced with ADD/ADHD, and some of the impulsiveness, I still struggle to make things "work", provide my own support strategies, understand myself and capabilities, and also to gain support and understanding from others.

Glad I registered for this forum.. it's likely time for me to network with others who are going through the same, so I won't feel like "I'm the only one I know" still like me.
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Old 04-02-12, 06:45 PM
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Re: Teachers with ADHD out there?

Quote:
Originally Posted by thefer View Post
Hi

I am a special education teacher who also has ADD-Inattentive type, with mild hyperactivity. I currently teach preschool special education.

There are times that I question if I can be successful in my job. I am going on 4 years and thought that I might be hitting burn out. I love what I do. There are days that are more challenging than others.

This year, I really struggled at my job because I restarted medications later (Oct) and then they stopped working. I was behind in paperwork, stressed to the max and lucky to make it through the day. It was a constant struggle. I did let my special educator director/school psy know about my dx. She did frequent check ins and worked with me during this time. I sought help and started working with a counselor and a psychtriast. After 2 months, we found somethinng that worked.
Don't worry, year 4 is usually a questioning year, not burnout really-- you are determining if what career you have chosen is worth it. Most teachers will leave before year 5... but stick it out, you'll see. I love teaching Special Education.

This year it was similar for me-- I think nationwide teachers got bombarded with paper work making it hard. (Even and ESL teacher, without ADD had told me he thought of leaving teaching this year due to excessive and more demands, less time with students).

Anyway, its good you have supportive co-workers. I wish I had that.. I fear I work with too many people who believe just tell the kid what to do, discipline them when they don't is the same approach to adult behavior- despite diagnosis of ADD/ADHD or other disabilities.

I found out, or believe, based on some experiences and advice I gave to a couple moms with boys with ADD/ADHD that some strategies used for children with Autism such as what TEACCH aims to do-- visual supports, self regulated schedules can work for children with ADD/ADHD. Laminated paper, velcro-- amazing-- are some of my favorite classroom materials. Of course the kids still need guidance creating the schedule or list of priorities from their "support" networks-- until they can learn to do it all on their own. Someday.

Is there another teacher who would like to be my "Support" and help make a visual schedule for me? lol...
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Old 04-04-12, 09:28 PM
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Re: Teachers with ADHD out there?

Hi

I honestly thought that I had supportive people at work until I found out my contract was in question. They have now turned there backs on me and it is one of the most difficult places to come into every day. A couple days before they were going to tell me that my contract will not be renewed, I had already interviewed and signed a contract in the lower 48. So when they told me, I said that I am turning in my resignation as I already signed a contract with another district/agency. I am seriously thinking of filing a complaint because I know that they discriminated against me. Almost 3-4 wks after I revealed that I was adhd, I was threaten with not getting a contract. It was confirmed in early March.

I don't think I am burned out of special education. I love what I do. I think I am more burned of where I am living. I am glad that I am making a move to make my life better.

I love visual schedules and boardmaker.

thanks
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Old 04-06-12, 02:03 AM
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Re: Teachers with ADHD out there?

I am a High School Teacher in a school that was on the "failing" list. I have taught two split years, the first full year was last year. This year I was moved to what was called an "Alternative High School" no one is special education certified where I am now. Most of the students aren't there because of any special needs, most are there for serious infractions, violence, drug and gang activity. I was given a very poor review for my classroom management, "I do not pay enough attention to what is going on in my classroom." I also was overwhelmed by the paperwork my new supervisor requested as my lesson plans went from one page per week per course to five pages a week per course this amounted to 15 pages a week. I grieved it with my union as it was not standard practice and became a target for my supervisor instead.
I was told I would not have a job if things didn't improve dramatically. I was only observed once at that was 3/4 of the way through the school year. Virtually all my issues are related to my ADD, I am scared to come forward with that. I am considering calling an attorney and having the attorney notify the district. Otherwise I'm sure things are't going to go well.
Anyone have any experience with a similar situation?
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Old 04-18-12, 07:29 AM
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Re: Teachers with ADHD out there?

Hi i am a primary school teacher diagnosed 4 yrs ago. The med help to stay focused, on time and moving effectively with the face pace of the day- keeps me too busy so i love it. i worry that it is obvious and other times im happy and confident.i have so many visuals to keep ME on track during the day thanks for the posts.
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Old 07-14-12, 08:34 PM
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Re: Teachers with ADHD out there?

I feel better to know that I am not alone, as I somewhat recently lost a job due to ADHD symptoms (which were then undiagnosed), and was treated as if I was the only one who had ever made the same mistakes of disorganization. I have always struggled with disorganization and it was very apparent at the workplace. Additionally, I tended to hyper focus on the day-to-day lesson planning, and completely lost track of grading and paperwork.

I guess I was one of many women who went undiagnosed during my school years because although I was considered "forgetful" and often in my "own world," I did very well with grades. I've always been disorganized, absent minded, and "scatterbrained," so I thought that was just who I was. My problems didn't start to really intrude on my life until I graduated from college.

My first job out of college was a long term substitute position from October to March. My department head's classroom observations always went fine; I would organize before the observations and was commended on my teaching strategies... But when the full time teacher returned, she noticed gaps in the grade book that I somehow had overlooked. I seriously did not realize how behind I was with the grade recording because I was so focused on planning my daily lessons. (On top of that, I was also working 20 hours per week at a second job, so I wasn't really giving myself time that could have helped to reflect.) Ultimately, I lost all letters of recommendation from that job, and I didn't return as a call-in substitute, as they had offered before. I simply didn't return after the confrontation about my mistakes and sent a letter from my doctor, so I'm not sure if they would have fired me if I had tried to stay, but the situation would have made it very uncomfortable at any rate.

I ended up feeling like a failure and have completely beaten myself up mentally for this over the past months. I felt like this would be the end of my career, that I would have done better if I had cared more, that I would always be plagued by my disorganization, that I had dug my own grave.

I was recently diagnosed with ADHD and I am starting to see that many of the terrible mistakes I have made in my life have not been entirely my fault. With treatment, hopefully I can work on getting myself out of the terrible cycles of disorganization and inattention. I've wanted to teach for so long, and I truly love the classroom setting, so I hope that I can work on my struggles to return stronger.
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Old 07-14-12, 09:24 PM
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Re: Teachers with ADHD out there?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalalalinds View Post
I feel better to know that I am not alone, as I somewhat recently lost a job due to ADHD symptoms (which were then undiagnosed), and was treated as if I was the only one who had ever made the same mistakes of disorganization. I have always struggled with disorganization and it was very apparent at the workplace. Additionally, I tended to hyper focus on the day-to-day lesson planning, and completely lost track of grading and paperwork.

I guess I was one of many women who went undiagnosed during my school years because although I was considered "forgetful" and often in my "own world," I did very well with grades. I've always been disorganized, absent minded, and "scatterbrained," so I thought that was just who I was. My problems didn't start to really intrude on my life until I graduated from college.

My first job out of college was a long term substitute position from October to March. My department head's classroom observations always went fine; I would organize before the observations and was commended on my teaching strategies... But when the full time teacher returned, she noticed gaps in the grade book that I somehow had overlooked. I seriously did not realize how behind I was with the grade recording because I was so focused on planning my daily lessons. (On top of that, I was also working 20 hours per week at a second job, so I wasn't really giving myself time that could have helped to reflect.) Ultimately, I lost all letters of recommendation from that job, and I didn't return as a call-in substitute, as they had offered before. I simply didn't return after the confrontation about my mistakes and sent a letter from my doctor, so I'm not sure if they would have fired me if I had tried to stay, but the situation would have made it very uncomfortable at any rate.

I ended up feeling like a failure and have completely beaten myself up mentally for this over the past months. I felt like this would be the end of my career, that I would have done better if I had cared more, that I would always be plagued by my disorganization, that I had dug my own grave.

I was recently diagnosed with ADHD and I am starting to see that many of the terrible mistakes I have made in my life have not been entirely my fault. With treatment, hopefully I can work on getting myself out of the terrible cycles of disorganization and inattention. I've wanted to teach for so long, and I truly love the classroom setting, so I hope that I can work on my struggles to return stronger.
Welcome to the forums. You are among many people with a similar story. It is frustrating to think of things we've lost because our diagnosis came so late. What is there to do but get support and find happiness again?
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Old 07-30-12, 02:48 PM
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Re: Teachers with ADHD out there?

I was essentially fired from my teaching job at the end of last year, although in my case my ADD was being treated. I found my particular situation to be really unforgiving towards disorganization. I don't think this means people with ADD can't be teachers. I'll just point out some of the difficulties I had:

1. Paperwork. I taught English. There was a constant flow of papers to be graded and handed back in to students. I lost papers, had a hard time prioritizing what to grade first, took too long to grade, didn't follow through on grading, wasn't consistent, etc.

2. I had a habit of "reinventing the wheel" every single time I taught a new concept. Teachers are repeatedly told NOT to do this (bc you'll never have the time), but it was like I couldn't help it. Unfortunately, I often spent SO much time developing my brilliant ideas that I ran out of time, and ended up scrambling to put something crappy together at the last minute. I worked like a dog all the time and had very little to show for it, because all my projects were unfinished.

3. I hated talking to parents on the phone. I do not feel like an adult. I don't have kids myself. I often didn't feel like I was assertive enough when parents made excuses for their kids or when the kids' behavior was unacceptable.

4. Throughout the course of a school day, there is a seemingly endless stream of small decisions that must be made with very little planning or warning. I am not good at thinking on my feet when other people are involved. (I'm fine at thinking on my feet in non-interpersonal ways.) I felt overwhelmed by the constant demand. Simple decisions could backfire quite easily.

5. I wasn't in a supportive school. It was very clique-y and my boss didn't value teachers who really cared about kids - he valued teachers who kept him from having to do extra work (even if the extra work was for a good reason.)

Having said all that, I'm NOT trying to tell you that teaching wouldn't work out for you. First, some of these issues are not unique to teaching. I would probably have had issues like this in any job. You probably have an entirely different set of strengths & weaknesses than I do.

Second, I don't know a LOT about special ed, but some elements might work to your benefit. In my district, special ed. teachers often worked as a team as far as paperwork went. This would alleviate some of your sense of panic over being responsible for all of it. Also, special ed. classes tend to be smaller and the students' workload tends to be smaller than a regular ed. class. This doesn't mean less work, but it might mean work that's easier to organize.

My best advice is to find people who you can be HONEST with about your teaching career. It is extremely stressful to be a first-year teacher (for everyone!) and you'll probably feel like you're screwing up all the time. Instead of feeling this way, find someone who you can vent to who will reassure you that you're not alone, and that every teacher has felt this way at some point or another.

Second, find a situation that you know is right for you. This may take some trial and error, but if you want to be a teacher, keep trying. I now know that if I want to be a successful teacher, I should probably not teach English, because I really didn't like it.

I wish you luck! If it's your dream, make it work!
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Old 08-03-12, 12:49 AM
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Re: Teachers with ADHD out there?

Hello Fellow Educators.

This is my first post. I have been reading these forums for a month now. When I stumbled onto this particular thread I was elated. I have finally found my peeps. So you all will have to forgive the long post and any typos.

I am a special education teacher. I am in my 11th year. I left my most recent job because I was being forced out. It was never a match for me.

As far as being a teacher with ADD, it can be frustrating. IEP's and related documents must be maintained. Deadlines and laws must be adhered to. However, I do not regret my career choice. I do wonderful work with some of amazing children and families. That is what Mackeenan should keep in mind. Have I screwed up and missed some deadline? YES! Have I sat through IEP meeting apologizing for typos? YES.

I have also helped kids progress many levels in math and reading over the course of a single school year. I have prevented some kids from dropping out of school. That's what's important. I know so many SPED teachers who are better at paperwork than actually teaching kids. This burns me up because these people just follow a textbook and gain a reputation for being excellent because their desks are always neat and their paperwork is pretty. However, I measure my success by student successes as we all should.

I will be back to post more later.
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Old 08-03-12, 01:01 AM
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Re: Teachers with ADHD out there?

I was essentially fired from my teaching job at the end of last year, although in my case my ADD was being treated. I found my particular situation to be really unforgiving towards disorganization. I don't think this means people with ADD can't be teachers. I'll just point out some of the difficulties I had:

1. Paperwork. I taught English. There was a constant flow of papers to be graded and handed back in to students. I lost papers, had a hard time prioritizing what to grade first, took too long to grade, didn't follow through on grading, wasn't consistent, etc.

I have these same issues. I am thinking of ways to cut back on written assignments. Although as an english teacher, you may want to invest soem time in developing master rubrics to grade assignments. Save them in Word so that they can be adapted. This may save you some time.

2. I had a habit of "reinventing the wheel" every single time I taught a new concept. Teachers are repeatedly told NOT to do this (bc you'll never have the time), but it was like I couldn't help it. Unfortunately, I often spent SO much time developing my brilliant ideas that I ran out of time, and ended up scrambling to put something crappy together at the last minute. I worked like a dog all the time and had very little to show for it, because all my projects were unfinished.

This is why lesson planning takes me so long. Also the same for writing papers in grad school. The neurotypicals (non ADD teachers) all had devised ways to quicken this process. They all got props for being good. It always seems
i am busting my but and not getting half the recognition of these people.


3. I hated talking to parents on the phone. I do not feel like an adult. I don't have kids myself. I often didn't feel like I was assertive enough when parents made excuses for their kids or when the kids' behavior was unacceptable.

4. Throughout the course of a school day, there is a seemingly endless stream of small decisions that must be made with very little planning or warning. I am not good at thinking on my feet when other people are involved. (I'm fine at thinking on my feet in non-interpersonal ways.) I felt overwhelmed by the constant demand. Simple decisions could backfire quite easily.

5. I wasn't in a supportive school. It was very clique-y and my boss didn't value teachers who really cared about kids - he valued teachers who kept him from having to do extra work (even if the extra work was for a good reason.)

Amen, sister. Especially the clique-y part. It extended to parents, administrators... It was insane.

Having said all that, I'm NOT trying to tell you that teaching wouldn't work out for you. First, some of these issues are not unique to teaching. I would probably have had issues like this in any job. You probably have an entirely different set of strengths & weaknesses than I do.

Second, I don't know a LOT about special ed, but some elements might work to your benefit. In my district, special ed. teachers often worked as a team as far as paperwork went. This would alleviate some of your sense of panic over being responsible for all of it. Also, special ed. classes tend to be smaller and the students' workload tends to be smaller than a regular ed. class. This doesn't mean less work, but it might mean work that's easier to organize.

Also, keep in mind that you may not have a tradional classroom. You may see small groups or individual students for 20-45 minute sessions each day. I find this to be very helpful. I could not make it as a classrom teacher with ADD.
i need constant change.

My best advice is to find people who you can be HONEST with about your teaching career. It is extremely stressful to be a first-year teacher (for everyone!) and you'll probably feel like you're screwing up all the time. Instead of feeling this way, find someone who you can vent to who will reassure you that you're not alone, and that every teacher has felt this way at some point or another.

Second, find a situation that you know is right for you. This may take some trial and error, but if you want to be a teacher, keep trying. I now know that if I want to be a successful teacher, I should probably not teach English, because I really didn't like it.


I wish you luck! If it's your dream, make it work! [/quote]
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