The Face of Autism in My Life

(This is one of my favorite pictures. He loves to make faces. You may have seen it before 🙂 )

Autism fact: Autism affects one in every 150 children born in the United States. Autism is the fastest growing disability in the United States.

I’ve never been the girly-girl type. While some of my friends carried around baby-dolls and babysat for extra money I never felt that inclination. In fact I didn’t really have any contact with babies until I had one of my own. When my maternal instinct finally kicked in it was as much a surprise to me as it was the rest of my family.

My first child was the type who talked early and at twelve years old still hasn’t shut the hell up. So when my younger son turned out to be a quieter soul I considered it a welcome relief. It wasn’t until he was about three that I began to become concerned. I would point out to others that he wasn’t talking like his brother. That so and so’s child had been speaking in perfect sentences a long time ago. It wasn’t that he couldn’t talk or point or communicate what he wanted, he just chose not to. I was told there probably wasn’t anything wrong. After all he’s highly intelligent. He could do puzzles far above his age level and he knew his abc’s well in advance of others his own age…but something still bugged me.

He didn’t meet my eyes.

He didn’t interact with the other kids.

He was happiest alone and playing with something by himself.

It wasn’t until I moved to Texas that a doctor told me he thought my child should be tested for a developmental delay. Once he went through some tests and was preliminarily diagnosed the people mentioned how I should’ve gotten him help sooner. We can agree that my response was less than polite.

When people speak of autism I hear horror stories of temper tantrums and horrible, loud meltdowns. I feel for those parents but I have to admit to a bit of relief that that isn’t my son. My child is a happy child who enjoys his computer, legos and reading and when he has a melt down it’s all about tears and a broken heart. He doesn’t understand why the world is so loud or why other kids do whatever they do. He doesn’t understand why making a lego Mario made his mother smile when making a lego machine gun with a removable cartridge didn’t bring quite the same reaction. (Note: I was torn between pride and horror over the machine gun. LOL! Did I mention it had a moveable trigger?)

Autism is considered a spectrum disease of which there are varying degrees and symptoms. Will my son grow out of his autism? Doubtful. But as his parent it is my job to show him that although he has to work harder to understand the motivation of the people around him he can do it. My husband has overcome his dyslexia, I’m hopeful with the right tools my son can deal with his autism. I don’t look at autism as a disease to be cured. My son has a unique look on life and when he finds ways to express it I’m always amazed at everything that goes inside that incredible mind.

He told me the other day that a tree was good. When I asked why he said it was “because it helps the elementals around it.” Was that the right answer? No. But it does show that when he was in school something they said stuck with him. He learned that a tree that looks still and quiet is actually changing its environment. To me my son is like that tree. He might be silent as he goes about his day but he’s still absorbing thing around him and like a tree produces necessary oxygen, my son gives what society often needs, a fresh perspective.

I will be releasing a book titled Accidental Alpha some time in April and all proceeds will go to autism charities. More information will appear on my website as I polish it up and have it edited.

As part of RJ’s Autism Awareness posting I will be giving away your choice of any of my books if you leave a comment below. A complete booklist of my stories can be found at

For more information about World Autism Awareness facebook page

73 thoughts on “The Face of Autism in My Life

  1. I’ve always thought Autism, in any form, must be a frustrating disorder to have. So many who have it are so bright but have such difficulty expressing their world/ideas/thoughts to those of us around them


  2. Thank you for having a positive attitude about your son’s abilities. It saddens me when I hear others be less than positive for their kids.

  3. Your son sounds like an incredible child, you are so right to be proud of both of will be a pleasure to buy Accidental Alpha and support your cause.

  4. He is an adorable child. And as with any child with autism he is a blessing and a joy in his own special way. Oh, I love the machine gun! Have you thought about getting him into engineering?

  5. Just as your son is a blessing and a gift to you, you Amber, are a blessing and a gift to the rest of us. The world needs more people who can see the beauty and heart in everyone and everything and relay it to others. Plus, I love your books!

  6. Thank you for your story. I know a couple of great kids with Asperger, and it saddens me to hear that both of them have some problems in school on the acceptance by the other kids part.. I also recognize some of your story, as my three yr old is behind in speach and is often totally off in her own world. For now we think the speach thing is related to changing countries (and languages) when she was two, but I must admit this isn’t the first time that mild autism crossed my mind… We will see. It doesn’t change her or the way we love her to pieces 😉

  7. I have a nephew with autism. We’ve been told it’s a mild case. He is 8 and still not speaking. He understands everything but is not able to communicate beyond hand gestures. It’s heartbreaking sometimes to see him with other kids and not be able to communicate when it’s clear that he does.
    Hats off to you for opening your life to give us all that much more insight into something that is not often understood and for doing your part to raise awareness.

  8. What a beautiful boy. You are very blessed to get to raise such a sensitive and amazing child.

    I will definitely be buying your book – it is such a wonderful cause.

  9. He is adorable, precious and so special in so many different ways. The machine out of Legos is brilliant, my grandson hasn’t tried that yet, but give him time. Enjoy everyday with him because you will never know what he will say or do, it will either make you smile or think “Oh God” what do I do or say now.

  10. I truly admire what you represent and what you as a person, a mother,and an author are doing not only for your son but for autism as a whole. You are an inspiration.

  11. Thank you, Ms. Amber, for telling us your story of your wonderful & beautiful son!!

    My 9 year old daughter has high-functioning autism (diagnosed when she turned 5), and she’s the joy of my life! I too don’t have the horror stories some other parents & teachers speak of, and I thank God day & night for my blessing!! I’ve been a single mom for the past 1.5 years (long story as to why we left my now ex-husband), and she always makes me smile & laugh & thankful for how she learns and how much she grows and enriches my life & the people around her. Sometimes I wonder what her future holds, but I feel it’s bright & beautiful, as she is 🙂


  12. My cousins child has a form of autism as well as multiple other medical problems. He is a very happy child and absolutely loves to get mail. So for his 10th birthday he got his very own post office box. I send weekly notes and will be happy to let him know that a lot of others support him and all other autistic people. Thanks for your story and I will be honored to support the cause by purchasing your new book.


    Autism is NOT sickness at all and one does not grow out of it as so often happens with ADHD. An autistic child grows up and becomes an autistic Adult. That is the simple truth. But tlhere is no “suffering” unless you think of the parents who “suffer” because their child thinks differently and sees the world in different light than most people do. We can live with dignity and with the right help live fruitful and independent lives…

    1. That is true Bubba. I hope I didn’t come across in my posting that I considered it a disease. I know some have the train of thought that it can be cured but I’m just trying to be bring awareness about people with autism. I’m hoping with better understanding society as a whole can have better acceptance of all people who see things in a different way.

  14. Have you ever considered writing a story with a hero that has an autism spectrum disorder? Perhaps Asberger’s syndrome? I think a lof of people learn a lot from fictional stories with correct details.

  15. I understand completely what you mean by offering a completely different point of view Amber. I grew up with an aunt who was catorgorized as retarded. As a child she was my favorite aunt because she understood what I talked about and enjoyed many of the things I did. She was my son’s favorite aunt for the same reason! She totally enjoys her life and helps those around her to enjoy theirs too.

  16. I like your prospective on the whole thing. I would’ve also went off on those dumb people. Like you waited on purpose! My uncle didn’t speak until he was three. There is nothing wrong with him except that now you can’t shut him up. Kids all develop differently and at their own pace. I know as a mother you are horrified about the legislation gun but it still sounds really impressive!

  17. Amber, this post made me smile and tear up. It reminds me of my son and his struggles. He’s 29 now and a father of 2. You can see the beauty of the world in your son’s eyes. What a treasure!

  18. What a sweet picture of your son, Amber! I’d never seen it before, but I can understand why it’s your favorite. 🙂 I admire what you and RJ are doing to raise awareness of autism this month, keep up the good work!

  19. I must say that I love the title. …The Face of Autism… In my life this face is seeing in my son Omar who is 7. He is my second son who was born very normal until 8 month old. At that time he became a quiet baby. He is the reason that we came to MA. Saddly in PR we where having trouble getting the help that He needed. Yes early is best but sometimes the enviroment where we live make that difficult to do.

    I will be in the look out for this book Amber cause I also have a face in Autism.

  20. Wow hes really smart ! & I’ve only been around one autistic kid once. It kinda seems wierd because I work at a daycare ! Lol but the one I did meet was really quiet & loved playing with her flashcards :o)

  21. I work with students on the spectrum and you are so correct, they bring such a unique perspective to most things it is often refreshing.

  22. The confidence and outlook you have in your son is incredible. If only all parents could face challenges the same way.

  23. Amber, you have an adorable little guy^^. I wish the world was filled with more people like you who can so appreciate the world through different perspectives.
    Your son sounds like he is such a joy to you. I will gladly buy your book to support this
    wonderful cause.

  24. You were made for each other. 😉 Your gift for story telling is your in to his complicated but beautiful mind. He’s beautiful and looks extremely happy.

  25. What a beautiful boy. Your outlook is to be admired. I can only pray that research will eventually find the answer to why this is happening at such an alarming rate.

  26. I admire you quite of lot. Not because of your talent (which I do) but being a mother of an autisic child is challenging and rewarding and it seems that you appreciate both.

  27. Your son is lovely – I think so many times people outside of a situation tell you that “you should have done this or that” when they only see the outside. We dealt with some of that with our oldest two (both are ADHD and the oldest had a speech delay as well), so I sypmathize. All in all, we just do the best we can as parents 🙂 Keep up the good work!

  28. Your son sounds like an incredible child and you sound like an incredible mother. Sometimes I see parents who treat their children so bad and it’s wonderful to see and hear about parents who know their child is precious and deserves all the kindness and goodness in the world:-)

  29. Amber, I have to comend you on pointing out there are different leveles of autism. Most people hear the word and think the extreme or suvant. I understand most people consider it a disease and I know there is not a cure (however I do hope that they can find a cause.) I also agree that people with autism and other problems that challange them should be looked upon with admiration, they can teach us alot if we open our eyes,hearts and ears and just “Listen” to what they have to say.

  30. he is a beautiful little boy my son has adhd and it’s hard for him and for me but we get through it what i hate is those people in the street who look at him like if he’s contagious it’s hurtful they also do it to my 4 yeard old when she has to wear her mask for her low immune system they even have the nerve to come up to me to ask i think everyone is beautiful and special

  31. Your son is adorable (as I’m sure his older brother is too!), and you are an amazing mom! Not that I’m surprised, you are such a generous author that it stands to reason you would be as generous and understanding in your home life!
    While I’m sure having a child with autism has it’s challenges, I have a friend who has a son with down syndrome, and he has learned so much, developed further than anyone expected him to, both situations make me wonder if, while some people consider them having “disabilities”, if they don’t just get to tune in to different parts of life as well as develop parts of their brain that some of us never do because we get so busy living a “normal” life, so perhaps there is as much to learn from or be reminded of with all of these kids as there is to learn about their conditions.

  32. I’d have bought your book anyways, but now there is an even better reason to do so. I really enjoyed reading your post – I have no personal experience with autism, but you helped put a “face” to it. Thank you.

  33. It is so wonderful that you accept your son just as he is. You also accept that this is not something that will be outgrown, and I think that’s a major milestone for parents. For us, figuring out what our daughter needs to have around her to feel secure and positive about herself has been the key to a happy life for all of us.


  34. it sounds like you have a lovely and sweet boy. being a child of an autistic parent i know he can go far with lots of love and support!

  35. ((((HUGS)))) you have a beautiful son and more hugs for him too!

    just tell me where and when for Accidental Alpha and i will be buying it.

  36. He is very cute. Thank you for saying there are many levels of autism, most people that I talk with think there is only one form and that it is not bad. They do not know what goes on with a child that is very severly affected.

  37. He is adorable. And your story is wonderful, especially the humor. It is refreshing to read about other people’s positive outlook on autism to help remind myself to celebrate the “quirkiness” and stop getting so caught up in the “challenges.”

  38. You must be so proud of your son and his attempts to “be” in this loud and often confusing world. I have a nephew who was not diagnosed till his teens. He had been difficult and “weird” (by certain standards) and bullied by his peers most of his young life, so that we spent our time trying desperately to understand how to cope with him and what his needs were. He had no clue about how to interract appropriately with others and his poor mother often heartbrokenly despaired of his ever finding a place for himself in society. The diagnosis of Asperger’s made a difference, as we all made certain changes, and were even able to find means of helping him. He is now independent (!)–truly! He is actually highly intelligent and has a responsible job in the computer field and no longer needs to live at home. He has a driver’s licence. He has learned to play badminton, to ski and to snowboard. He has travelled–on his own and with others. This terrified us at first as social interraction is still extremely difficult for him–he finds it hard to “read” people. We were scared this would get him in trouble as he visited foreign countries. But somehow the very fact that there is always a certain disconnect when people come from different cultures and language backgrounds, actually was a boon. He loves travelling and is constantly saving for his next trip. His addiction is trains and he can talk about them for hours. He has channeled this into preservation and has joined a volunteer organisation, so he mixes with other enthusiasts, who don’t find his singlemindedness on the topic of trains at all odd. He still has the tics of finding it hard to meet your eyes, or not knowing what tone to use–his voice is often a little flat, as expressing emotions appropriately still confuses him–and we know that some people find him “odd”, but we are so very proud of him. For a young man who has to daily face challenges, his achievements are amazing.

    1. Thank you for sharing his story. My Autistic son Jordan wants to travel the world. This dream is scary for us he is fifteen and we are having trouble even letting him go into a store by himself.

  39. Amber. you are so blessed to sheapard such a beautiful soul. I will pray for ya’ll and I know that your families happy outlook will get him through it all.

  40. I have always thought that people who see the world a little differently sometimes are very blessed. They focus better than we do, because they don’t allow the distractions. Sometimes building Legos is all a child should be focusing on, being creative and being a kid. I really wish some parents would not make their child act like a mini adult and just let them be children.I look back and I value the times I wiped out on my dirt bike, went hunting for nightcrawlers, played with chalk on the sidewalk, colored with a new box of Crayolas, climbed trees, build a fort or played with my friends outside. Many of todays children don’t know anything but video games.

    Amber I think your son is your reminder of the beauty that children see everyday,that many times us adults overlook. I would have loved the Lego gun, my nephew and his dad build a Lego menorrah for Hannukah when he visited this last year. Much love for reflecting a positive image on Autism and letting us into both your and his lives.

  41. What a great post Amber! Working with autistic children can be stressful but the feeling you get when they succeed is unbelievable. You are one of those moms us teachers love!!

  42. I think the pride you have for your son shines through this post. It is very touching. He’s lucky to have supportive parents like you and Mr.Kell.

  43. Thanks for sharing your story with us. I’ll be buying a copy of the book as well. An incredible cause. My nephew is on the spectrum as well. They are amazing children with amazing gifts.

  44. At the age of two doctors thought my beautiful baby boy was deaf…he wasn’t. He didn’t speak till three years old when he also started reading at the same time. He was not potty trained until I was able to graphically explain the toxic effect of poop to his understanding, he was six years old. In 2000 I quit work to stay home and work with him. Eventually when the school system failed him I became a home school teacher. This year he is a freshman at a great charter highschool two cities away, commuter mom. I only teach him a couple of subjects at home. It is an adventure raising children especially when their needs demand your all. I can not imagine it any other way and I am looking forward to what comes next.

  45. I don’t look at autism as a disease to be cured. My son has a unique look on life and when he finds ways to express it I’m always amazed at everything that goes inside that incredible mind.

    It sounds like your son is going to have some of autism’s gifts as well as its challenges. 🙂 And that he’s got good support in his parents. Lucky boy!

  46. I will be buying this book for myself and buying copies for friends as gifts because this is a great cause.

  47. Okay Amber. You made me cry. But, not in a bad way. I feel like for once somebody gets it. They understand exactly where I’m coming from. My son is alot like yours. He loves computers, video games, and reading (currently on a Charlie Brown obsession…LOL). He usually is mostly quiet and by himself. Although we have had the screaming meltdown before when his routine was messed up. (lessons learned) Thank you so much for posting this. It means alot to me. And, I want others to know that yes it is not a disease and people shouldn’t look at kids having meltdown out in public as probably just being “a brat”. Maybe this will make people stop and think before judging a child or parent.

  48. If your son is the tree you are definetly the elementals around it and it’s truly amazing to find someone else that truly gets it… Children with autism truly are a gift that makes every day an adventure in life… Keep having adventures and helping him to put the puzzle together piece by piece.

  49. I understand your mixed feelings on the gun thing. It reminded me of something my grandson did at about 3 or 4. He was cheating at Candyland by stacking the cards so he would win. It was a mix of horror that he was cheating and guilty pride that he figured out how to cheat at that age. I think your son has a bright future with you to guide him. Hopefully it won’t be in weapons design.

  50. We found out that my nephew has autism about 3 months ago and the family is learning to cope. The support that has been shown is awsome.

  51. You have such a handsome young man for a son! By putting a face on autism and allowing people to get to know how autism affects your family and your son, it allows those who have never encountered anyone personally to understand just a little better – and opens the future a little wider for your boy. Having the opportunity to work with an autistic child for a few years in elementary school has made my teenager consistently state she will go to college to work with autistic youth. A friend of mine who has an adult autistic child has so many stories of the joy this young has brought to their (and everyone around her!) lives – her perspective is so unique on everything and it is almost always happy. I just think when people understand things, they are more accepting and more willing to embrace the uniqueness!

  52. Hi Amber,

    Thanks for allowing us a view into your life. RJ is lucky to have such a dedicated family. My friend recently asked for advice on a mobile device her son can use to help develop his speech. She’s looking for something that can be strapped to his wrist or waist and allows her to lock the screen to remain on a certain app. Do you have any ideas?

    BTW…I am an enthusiastic fan who owns all of the books listed on your site. I’m looking forward to My Man Declan, Accidental Alpha and more of the Mikela series. Protecting His Soul is my choice for a free book.

    Best Wishes,

  53. My nephew was diagnosed earlier this year, the family immediatly mobilized to researced all the information we could find. It has really opened our eyes to an undiagnosed person in our family, we have become active in fundraising and spreading information. Encourage your son, love him and understand that he sees with eyes that may help save this world one day. There is no “cure”, some will never learn to cope, some will. Just keep loving him and enjoy every moment you have. My son’s obsession is to make the world a better place. He studies robotics, cybernetics, and he was accepted into the Air Force to train to be a nurse. He has people that call him friend and appreciate his unique perspective of the world.

  54. The love you have for your son was so aparent as I read this.

    When I was a teenager families were embarassed when their child was less than what society considered normal and those with the more obvious or severe disabilities were locked up in facilities. Families didn’t want to deal with it or couldn’t deal with it because there was no support system.

    I’ve never really been around anyone with autism before and didn’t understand it. During the two years I worked for a military child care facility that changed. One of the students in my class was a young man with autism. Unlike your son he did ocassionaly have melt downs, usually when his schedule got changed too drastically. Fire drills could be an experience. But he was amazing.

    Adults are so wrapped up in work, bills, play dates for their kids and a dozen other admittedly important parts of being a grownup and a parent. Kids of all ages are caught up in the newest video games, friends (who likes who, clicks, etc.) and the newest fad in clothing.

    This child though, he made me slow down and look at the world around me, made me remember to be happy with what I have instead of worrying about getting more. He was so smart too. He had trouble communicating but like your son, give him building materials of any kind and he could make amazing things. Orders came and we had to leave but he changed my life and I hope I never forget the lessons he taught me.

    I was blessed to spend two years watching him grow and learn just as your family is blessed with your amazing son.

  55. Amber,

    Your son sounds like a wonderful young man, your family makes this world a better place.

  56. Amber,

    I have to be honest and admit that I do not know anyone with Autism. I know people with ADD, ADHD and a host of other disorders. In your post you mentioned that some had critized you for not seeking help sooner, I wanted you to know that I was encoaureged by the time you waited on seeking help for your son. Did you not worry about you son? Of course you did, that is what a loving parent does but when is it the right time to seek professional help and when is it a time to just sit back and see how it goes. From what you posted it seems to me that your son seems to be more comfortable around the things and people he knew, not uncommon among young kids. As he got older then you went to docs for answers that seems reasonable to me. It seems to me that you wanted to be sure that whatever was going on was not something normal in the development of your child. What is normal? Especially in todays economy why waste money on seeing the doc if what is going on is seen as normal course of development.

    I could go on for sometime and as this is just a comment spot and not a spot for bloging but I hope that you can see my point is that we should wait for a time before looking into other reasons for not wanting to interact with others or making eye contact. If we start going to the doctor for everything that was abnormal in our reactions and personality then we would be on all sorts of meds and be a robot society. What is abnormal to someone is normal in someone else.

    If you choose my comment as the winner is it possible to get Accidental Alpha as the book I want. I have all the ones that I am intrested in already.

  57. I’m working my way through buying all your books anyway as you are such a great writer, but now there is an even better reason to do so. Reading your post was a eye opener, I must admit I have no personal experience with autism, I only know what I see on tv. My best friend is right now trying to get help for her son who might have adhd, and her daughter who is now 13 but since she was 8 keeps running away, has no friends, cant interact with kids her own age, but loves being with adults. She’s been put in her 5th school, which is for problem kids, and now being bullyed so bad shes took knifes in to school just so she gets sent home, also she is self harming. And no one wants to help, They say she is a normal kid. What ever that is. She is so bright she is being put in to do her GCSE’s this year. I spend evey weekend with my mates family, her kids are my god children and it breaks my heart to see them all go though this as it effects the whole family, my other god son sees what is happening and what in his mind his sister is getting away with, and treated for. like going out for day trips with the rest bite people even tho shes been bad, and yet he gets sent to his room, so is starting to react to it. We are working relly hard to make sure all kids get treated the same and keep there family working as a whole together. Sounds like you have achieved this very well. Now just one more thing, I know how your husband feels, I was the same, I only started reading at age 11. I was very good a hiding the fact I couldnt read. I use to get my brother to read the book to me first so I could memorise it for when we had to read to the teachers. Then my mum gave me a mills and boon book, of all things, and you know what, took me awhile but I read the hole book, i still struggle with spelling but reading is fine and havent put books down since. Which has saved my life really as for 10 years I have been out of work due to Sciatitca & OsteoArthritis with curvature of the spine and now I have Fibromyalgia and a left hand that dont work, for over a year I couldnt move but books keeped me sane, takes me in to your worlds you write and out of my pain filled days. So BIG Thank you , keep up the great work, with your books and your wonderful family.Your son sounds amazing you must be very proud. I would be. All the best to you

  58. Love the picture. 🙂

    I don’t personally know anyone affected by autism, so the Awareness Day would have passed without me noticing it, but you and RJ Scott managed to make me more aware with your blog posts, at least.

    I hope Accidentally Alpha sells well, too!

  59. I was deeply touched by your story and saw elements of my expierence with my oldest child in it; while she did not have autism, she did suffer from speech impediment (from ear infections as a baby….like 1 every 3 weeks for 6 months) as well as dyslexia (a rare type hard to diagnose). She couldn’t speak clearly or be understood easily (except by me and her father) as her younger sister, yet when I brought it up to Dr’s they said to not compare children; I finally forced an evaluation where shocker she needed extensive speech therapy for 3 years. Others people response yep why didn’t you do something sooner….I spent a lot of time feeling guilty. The dyslexia was the same, she knew her abc’s, numbers etc at a much younger age but when it came time to read she struggled, numbers where great but reading lagged…I bugged teachers, tutors but it wasn’t until her 4th grade year that she was finally diagnosed….again people asked (even some relatives) why didn’t I do something sooner…arghhhhhhh. So believe me, been there and understand the urge to xxxxxx.

    But back to your son, he sounds marvelous and has his own unique prespective, which is truly beautiful. Autism is not a disease it is just a different way some people have a interacting with the world; while it can make life more difficult it can also enrichs peoples lives and make them slow down and really see what is going on around them. I honestly don’t see the need to cure, but rather give these special children the tools to function in our world and teach the rest of us to function in theirs.

    Thanks again for sharing your story 🙂

  60. He’s just lovely.
    I will definitely buy your book.
    A lot of talk about autism in my friends circle as one of us has a child with the not so quiet autism. We go together and watched a film called A mother’s courage: Talking back to autism. It is narrated by Kate Winslet and is just an amazingly touching story.

    All the best to RJ and your family.

  61. Children are God’s precious gifts. It is my belief that children with special needs are precious little angels that God has a personal hand in creation. For when the angels are sent to Earth, they always bring love, beauty and happiness in the simplest manner when they teach us to view the world in their own special way.

    Beauty is not always in the eye of the beholder but is always there when you help the little ones smile.

  62. Hello,just read your post my son Rick is 12 he too is my special son autism has Rick not Rick has autism,he is a delight any helium books you can send my way would be wonderful thanks proud mama!

    1. Sadly I don’t have any helium books but if I run across one it’s yours. 🙂

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