Need help with my 7 yr old son

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He is a ... handful (to put it nicely). He doesn't listen to anything or anyone, has a total meltdown if you look at him wrong, he can't focus in class... he got sent to the counselor last week for losing every assignment he was given in class, interrupting, talking thru class, and coloring on his desk. Once he gets upset over something, he's pretty much beyond help. We’ve tried to teach him coping mechanisms like taking deep breaths to calm down, but he's so hard on himself and extremely sensitive and emotional. I don’t know some days what to do with him. He lies about his behavior at school constantly. He doesn't seem to have extreme anger outbursts, but he will push you or hit if he gets mad enough. He'll say he didn't get in trouble at school when we find out later he did. You can't punish the kid because it does no good. He cares and feels bad when he gets caught in a lie, but it doesn't change his behavior. He seems to only regret what he’s done when he gets caught and is held accountable for his actions.

He briefly went to a babysitter with several other kids when he was 4 and even then, he had massive meltdowns. She’d report back to us that if the other kids were playing he'd put his hands over his ears and scream that they were giving him a headache and throw world class temper tantrums. He'd yell at the sitter that he hated her. He still tells me that the other kids in class “give him a headache” and he can’t focus on what he’s doing. He complains all the time about his sister, even when she’s playing by herself when he’s trying to do something else, because she apparently gives him a headache too.

I can't seem to get thru to the kid. He learns everything the hard way.... like when I told him at least 15 times not to aim his Nerf gun at his face and he only learned after he shot a foam dart into his eye. He doesn't seem to respond to questions and directions like I’d expect him to at age 7. He can’t keep track of his own possessions – he doesn’t know where he put his coat (on the floor in front of him), doesn’t know where he shoes are, or his backpack/school books/folder/whatever it is he's missing, and can’t focus long enough to actually conduct a useful search for it. If I ask him what he did in school that day, most of the time he “can’t remember.” I suspect he continues to lie daily about his behavior. We're really pushing his teacher to email us at the end of every day he gets in trouble and tell us what it was for and how bad it was so we can tell when he's lying. She says he'd be a super student in a one-on-one classroom, which is obviously not possible. He's so demanding of everyone. He pesters my SO's daughter constantly, and she's a real introvert and gets annoyed easily by him and I'm afraid will start resenting him. He rarely can play by himself. He’s always wanting attention from me, SO, whoever. The only time he successfully plays independently is if it’s an activity that absolutely requires constant, undivided hand eye coordination – like video games, his favorite thing in the world. I say that, but he’s been without his video game privileges for 3 months and still has not improved his behavior. In fact, he snuck his DS system to school without my knowledge, was caught playing games in class, was repeatedly asked to put it away and when he failed to, he got it taken away. His teacher told him to come home and tell his parents he will get it back at conferences, but instead he came home and when I couldn’t find it later, he helped me search the entire house for 2 hours. Knowing the entire time where it actually was.

Communication from the school has been spotty at best. I think his teacher means well but fails to follow through. They're on the green-red-yellow-blue card discipline system at school and teachers are supposed to send home a pink note if he pulls both his yellow and red card, and a discipline sheet if he pulls his blue card and gets sent to the office. We found out at recent parent teacher conferences that the kid's been saying yellow when he was on red because he figured out he gets in less trouble for that, and she hasn't been sending home pink notes. Now when he says "green day" it makes me wonder if she just failed to tell us otherwise.

He does have a few friends at school that he talks about - mostly when they've talked him into doing something he shouldn't have, which isn't hard - but he also tells me he gets made fun of a lot. He's in youth league soccer this year and he can make it through an actual game and come out okay on the other side, but I pulled up to practice last week to find him sitting in the middle of the field, having a massive meltdown, tears and snot and all, because the other kids "weren't playing fair" and took the ball from him. I took him to the car and he was uncontrollable. There was no calming him down. He can be a very good kid and he has a big heart. Some days he surprises me and I feel like I have a different child. For example, Sunday when SO and I were painting a bedroom, he was really well behaved all day. He played well with the other two children and was very sweet to me – he made me a present out of a shoebox. I don’t expect to be able to ignore him at home and I don’t feel I do – I am just one person and have to divide my attention and he sucks up a lot of my attention and energy. I know he is capable of very good days both at home and school but those days seem to be few and far between, and I’m not sure where to go with him from here.
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Last edited by lcl0706; 04-24-2012 at 04:57 PM.
I'm sorry, I skimmed over some parts, but I got most of it.

Reminds me of my now 7 year old when she was 2 and 3.

At the moment I'm not going to go in depth with detail. But I was so frustrated I would sit down and cry at least once a day. Her meltdowns were so frequent and so long lasting that I was always exhausted and at the end of my rope. There seemed to be a miss fire in her brain. She knew right from wrong, it was almost like she couldn't focus on the result or effect of what she was doing. But she could play on the computer for hours, and I let her because she could focus on it.

She learns much in the way you describe your son does too.

Long story short, I spent weeks upon weeks googling and reading information. What I came up with told me she had autistic behavior characteristics, although she wasn't diagnosed as such. I changed her diet, removed dairy completely (sometimes gluten is to blame too) and started giving her psyllium fiber a couple times a week to keep her regular. Started giving her probiotics (acidophilus), and vitamin D. And we continued focusing on calming activities (I would have her sit and close her eyes and picture a rainbow on the center of her forehead and try to look at it. Then I would tell her to look at her rainbow when she needed to calm down.)

I'm sharing this because she is the most well behaved, fantastic kid. She does well in school, her teachers love her. I still remember what a hard time I had when she was a toddler, and her doctor wouldn't listen to me. I know what it feels like to think you've done everything wrong and somehow caused this. I felt like it was my fault at the time, and now I'm proud to say I've fixed it.

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Last edited by iroc; 04-24-2012 at 05:29 PM.
Random list of thoughts, very poorly organized:

Is he in public school and has he had any kind of evaluation? What does his pediatrician say? If he can have an evaluation and get some kind of plan in place, you can make one of the "rules" that the teacher reports about his behavior every day - this relieves him of the need to lie and you of having to depend on his iffy interpretation of the day. My daughter is six. She comes home with a folder every day. There's a calendar stapled to one side. Her "color" is marked every day. I'm told if there are a lot of yellows or a red, there will be a note as to why so you don't have to ask and the kid doesn't feel backed into a corner to lie. They have the same system through third grade, I think. It helps a lot. I know what happened and I can send a note back in the folder to get more info if I need it (or I can email, her teacher is fantastic about responding to email).

As for keeping up with his stuff, does all his stuff have a place? We have found things much easier now that my daughter has an "after school" spot - coat, shoes, school bag, lunch box, library books all go in the same place. It's right inside the door. We don't have to hunt things because those things live there. Same with clothes - there's a hamper in her room. We don't have to track down pajama bottoms or uniform shirts because they all go in HER hamper. She seems to really LIKE knowing where everything goes and having very simple systems/habits for things. VERY simple but they make our lives so much easier.

If I think she's going to be tempted to lie about something, I don't ask "did you forget to blah blah blah" - I tell her what I know (I see you didn't put away your toys last night) and tell her what to do about it (you need to put them all in the yellow basket in your room now). It seems to eliminate a whole lot of lying to save face or avoid punishment. At the end of it, what I want is for her to put her stuff away. "Catching her in a lie" on top of it isn't going to do anything except create another situation I have to punish for.

Does he do well with simple routines and habits? I find that eliminates a lot of chaos and fighting.

Does he get plenty of time outside to be wild and get rid of pent up energy? What is his diet like?

I would really try to figure out what the core of the issue is. It sounds like he is easily over loaded with input and chaos. Soccer may not be his sport. Something individual like running or swimming might be better. He may really be dealing with things he can't help and forcing him into provoking situations won't help him get better about dealing, they'll just continue to over load his already maxed out system.

If he does well with video games - maybe it's because they require total attention and problem solving. Does he also like things like Lego and building/strategy toys and games? He may need that quiet concentration to sort of calm down from the day.

I hope you find something that helps. Talk to his pediatrician and if you think he needs an eval, put it in writing. There may be things they can do for him in the classroom so that he's not SO over stimulated and maxed out on input but the system is not fast. A good teacher will start to work with you BEFORE you have an IEP or 504 (different districts seem to weight one or the other more heavily) in place.

Good luck!
My about to turn 5 yr. old has some difficulties as well. I do identify with your "he has to learn the hard way" statement.

Have you looked at books about sensory integration issues in children? Maybe an evaluation by an Occupational Therapist may help. Also, consider a Montessori-based environment and/or homeschooling to provide the structure he needs.

We're also eliminating dairy. Because we're combining that with other behavioral modifications, I can't say that it's helped, but I do notice that his asthma has been triggered much less.
hello.world.
((hugs)) sounds like your little guy has got a lot going on!

At age 7 (grade 1?), its not uncommon for kids to start being diagnosed for things like ADHD and sensory processing disorder. They've managed up to this point, but the additional stress of a structured classroom setting and full day school just kind of puts them over the edge. Like someone said above, have a chat with the school regarding an evaluation or take him to your family doctor.

I have more to add but will come back later to post.


A few thoughts:

It sounds like his teacher should help him to develop an organization system so that he is capable of being responsible for his work. As for the lying, it is possible that he is not sure what else to do- you stated that he is sensitive and emotional and hard on himself so phrasing a question so that he has to answer in a way that implicates himself for getting in trouble is very stressful. Can you talk to the teacher about receiving more consistent communication? Incidentally, I hate those card systems, they are punitive and there is a large body of research to support positive behavior supports.

I would recommend an eval, probably both a psycho-educational eval and an occupational therapy eval. They should be able to do both at school. It sounds like he is having lots of trouble in noisy environments which could be an indicator of sensory processing issues or attention issues. Actually, reading your next paragraph, I would ask for a speech/ language eval as well- the following directions, answering questions are receptive language skills. A good speech pathologist will also report the interrupting; a child his age should have the social language skills to refrain from that much of the time.

He may actually need the video game time to recharge himself. I'm not big on lots of screen time, but some kids really need it and benefit from it. Wearing my professional (rather than my parental) hat, I would not try to 'catch him lying'. Rather, i would try and help him learn to be honest. make it a learning experience. If you know he is being dishonest about something that happened in school and you know what actually happened through teacher communication, you can tell him, "No, you should tell me what actually happened. You can say [insert event here]".

This is an excellent reference for positive behavior support. The model was developed at Vanderbilt University.
Amneris likes this.
Random list of thoughts, very poorly organized:

Is he in public school and has he had any kind of evaluation? What does his pediatrician say? If he can have an evaluation and get some kind of plan in place, you can make one of the "rules" that the teacher reports about his behavior every day - this relieves him of the need to lie and you of having to depend on his iffy interpretation of the day. My daughter is six. She comes home with a folder every day. There's a calendar stapled to one side. Her "color" is marked every day. I'm told if there are a lot of yellows or a red, there will be a note as to why so you don't have to ask and the kid doesn't feel backed into a corner to lie. They have the same system through third grade, I think. It helps a lot. I know what happened and I can send a note back in the folder to get more info if I need it (or I can email, her teacher is fantastic about responding to email).

As for keeping up with his stuff, does all his stuff have a place? We have found things much easier now that my daughter has an "after school" spot - coat, shoes, school bag, lunch box, library books all go in the same place. It's right inside the door. We don't have to hunt things because those things live there. Same with clothes - there's a hamper in her room. We don't have to track down pajama bottoms or uniform shirts because they all go in HER hamper. She seems to really LIKE knowing where everything goes and having very simple systems/habits for things. VERY simple but they make our lives so much easier.

If I think she's going to be tempted to lie about something, I don't ask "did you forget to blah blah blah" - I tell her what I know (I see you didn't put away your toys last night) and tell her what to do about it (you need to put them all in the yellow basket in your room now). It seems to eliminate a whole lot of lying to save face or avoid punishment. At the end of it, what I want is for her to put her stuff away. "Catching her in a lie" on top of it isn't going to do anything except create another situation I have to punish for.

Does he do well with simple routines and habits? I find that eliminates a lot of chaos and fighting.

Does he get plenty of time outside to be wild and get rid of pent up energy? What is his diet like?

I would really try to figure out what the core of the issue is. It sounds like he is easily over loaded with input and chaos. Soccer may not be his sport. Something individual like running or swimming might be better. He may really be dealing with things he can't help and forcing him into provoking situations won't help him get better about dealing, they'll just continue to over load his already maxed out system.

If he does well with video games - maybe it's because they require total attention and problem solving. Does he also like things like Lego and building/strategy toys and games? He may need that quiet concentration to sort of calm down from the day.

I hope you find something that helps. Talk to his pediatrician and if you think he needs an eval, put it in writing. There may be things they can do for him in the classroom so that he's not SO over stimulated and maxed out on input but the system is not fast. A good teacher will start to work with you BEFORE you have an IEP or 504 (different districts seem to weight one or the other more heavily) in place.

Good luck!
Originally Posted by CGNYC
Trying to answer as many questions here -

Yes he's in public school. In Kindergarten he was evaluated by the ACES program and was observed in class and had one on one time with a counselor thru that program weekly, that seemed to help - but funding was dramatically cut to that program and it is full this year with kids that "are worse than he is" as they put it. Nice, huh.

I haven't addressed this yet with his pediatrician - that is next week and I will be asking for an evaluation with a child psychologist that may be able to identify ADHD or some other type of processing disorder.

His teacher emails us sometimes and sometimes doesn't. We've stressed the importance of communication with her so I truly hope she isn't just dropping the ball here.

His stuff has a place and always has. He has a bucket in his room for shoes, his own hamper, and he knows his stuff goes to his room. It just doesn't always make it there without me taking it myself because he is all over the place. He doesn't seem to care that his stuff has it's own spot.

I wish I could identify when he's "tempted to lie" but he has lied to me straight faced when I already knew the truth and if I didn't know it already, I would've believed him. So I can't tell when he's lying or not. He's an excellent liar.

He seems to work better on structure - like bedtime is bedtime, period, it's always been 8 to 8:30 and he sleeps like a rock at the end of each day, like it just exhausts him to live. He does get to run around - he has soccer practice once a week, he has a big yard at his dad's house, but at mine I feel like he gets shorted a bit because we live in a crappy neighborhood in a trailer park with 15 feet between us and the next trailer and not a lot of room to move. Our evenings seem so hurried sometimes when I don't get him picked up till 5:30 then it's dinner-shower-review schoolwork-bedtime all so fast. Weekends are more relaxed and fun. His diet is like that of an average 7 year old picky eater. Not horribly unhealthy but not vegan or fruits and veggies 24/7 either.

He LOVES soccer and begged to play it so I think he enjoys it, just doesn't know how to/doesn't have the capacity to play well with others yet. It's ironic to me because I've never seen him have a meltdown in an actual game - maybe because he has a goal he's working towards? Not sure.

He does do well with Legos - he got a racecar lego set for Easter and sat down and flipped through the booklet and built the car all by himself by reading the instructions. His mind just works that way, I guess. He was also uninterrupted while building it.


My about to turn 5 yr. old has some difficulties as well. I do identify with your "he has to learn the hard way" statement.

Have you looked at books about sensory integration issues in children? Maybe an evaluation by an Occupational Therapist may help. Also, consider a Montessori-based environment and/or homeschooling to provide the structure he needs.

We're also eliminating dairy. Because we're combining that with other behavioral modifications, I can't say that it's helped, but I do notice that his asthma has been triggered much less.
Originally Posted by webjockey

I have read up on symptoms of ADHD and grew up with an ADHD younger brother and it all seems to fit my son. I know less about sensory integration but his thing about hearing and noise and "headaches" while distracted bugs me. We have no Montessori based schools around here (SMALL town 50 minutes away from a Target even) and homeschooling is not an option as both of us parents work full time, his stepmom works full time, my SO works full time and none of us can afford to give that up. Nor do I have the patience it requires to be an effective teacher. I wish I could afford to put him in our private catholic school here just to see if it's structured differently and would make a difference but I barely crack the poverty limits and unfortunately cannot.

I'm interested in what his pedi has to say next week.
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Co-wash: VO5 Volumizing
Poo: Giovanni 50:50
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LI: KCKT
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Gels: SCC spray gel

My daughter had a sensory issue as a toddler as well. If we walked into a crowded, noisy room, a store with bright lighting, a family function, etc, she would melt down.
She also is a go-goer, and is out cold at bedtime, but she is an early riser.

She often did well with puzzles or blocks that she could focus on.

A busy schedule like that would probably be a lot for her too. When she started school, I limited her time at her fathers on the weekend to every other because it was too unstructured.

Good luck with the doctor. I hope it's a helpful appointment.


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I agree with the previous suggestions. Is the ACES program part of the school district, or is it a separate system? If not, I would investigate again about getting him evaluated through the school district. The pediatrician will hopefully be helpful also.

A couple other thoughts: Perhaps you could use video games as a reward for having a good day at school and putting shoes/backpack/etc in the right place, or something along those lines.

I think the teacher is dropping the ball here. Teachers are very busy and have way too many demands on their time, so I am sympathetic to her, but she's not following through like she should. Is there any way you can volunteer in the classroom an hour or two per week? You could keep closer tabs on how he's doing and maintain good lines of communication with the teacher.
Kudos to you for being proactive while your son is still young. You're describing many of the behaviors my son demonstrated. Unfortunately, we waited until our son was 14 to get him evaluated because he wasn't a huge behavior problem, just had focus issues and we perceived him as lazy, impulsive, forgetful, dishonest and unmotivated. As you can guess, he has ADD (no H) and now that he's being treated, life is way better. I wish we'd done something years earlier.

One thought about the "headache" when there are distractions. If he does have ADHD, the word headache may be what he uses to describe brain overload since he's not able to tune out everything that's going on around him.

Feel free to PM me if you want to talk more. Good luck!
Sarah - ACES is part of the school district. I agree with the teacher dropping the ball here a bit...its not that hard to fire off an email at the end of the day or attach a note in his folder just simply saying what color he was on, even.

Carpool - thank you. He has a pediatrician appt on friday the 4th & i will ask that he be evaluated by someone. That is a good point about the headache being brain overload.

SO was with us Saturday morning & just couldnt get over how "on the move" he is constantly. Just all over the place! Granted, his daughter is an introvert & quieter than most kids their age (she's but still...he's a ball of constant motion & noise!

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fine, thin, normal/(low?) porosity. Mod-CG. Usually I can't co-wash more than 1x a week, & sometimes I have to use T-Gel in rotation due to scalp issues.

Co-wash: VO5 Volumizing
Poo: Giovanni 50:50
RO:TN, Nexxus Youth Renewal, Alba Coconut
LI: KCKT
PT: gelatin PT, ION EC
Stylers: Giovanni mousse, TIGI Curls Rock amplifier (a-cone), Curls Rock Strong Hold Mousse
Gels: SCC spray gel


One thought about the "headache" when there are distractions. If he does have ADHD, the word headache may be what he uses to describe brain overload since he's not able to tune out everything that's going on around him.
Originally Posted by Carpool Curly
That's very interesting, I've never heard that before! My almost 5 yr old was just diagnosed with ADHD last week and she often complains of headaches.



Blame it on the cell phone...
PalomaRoberts and NolanJudel like this.

One thought about the "headache" when there are distractions. If he does have ADHD, the word headache may be what he uses to describe brain overload since he's not able to tune out everything that's going on around him.
Originally Posted by Carpool Curly
That's very interesting, I've never heard that before! My almost 5 yr old was just diagnosed with ADHD last week and she often complains of headaches.


Originally Posted by subbrock
Please take my comment as coming from a complete non-medical person and still explore the headaches further with your doctors. I just know that when I'm doing super mentally challenging things like taxes or in a chaotic environment (like Chuck E Cheese) I would say it's hurting my head, but it's not really. KWIM?
I've explored the headache issue with her doctor and her therapists and none of them have come up with an explanation/cause.

Blame it on the cell phone...
@subbrock, hmmm, maybe one of my hair brained ideas might have some validity if there's no other explanation.
Bump.

Just wanted to see how things were going.
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hello.world.
Yes, I'd like to hear how things are going too!

A few words about us: my older DS is 6 and in kindergarten. He's advanced in terms of reading, writing, math, etc, but he has struggled since he started kindergarten with the routines and behavior expectations.

He has trouble managing his folders, backpack, etc. at school. We recently met with the teacher and talked about some ways to support him. We're going to focus on one routine when he has trouble, the end of the day, and he'll have his tasks to do--put papers in folder, put folder and lunch box in backpack, get coat, line up. If he accomplishes everything, he gets a sticker on a chart. His teacher said she can't give us a daily note or email, but she will on a weekly basis.

DS also has very low frustration threshold and he is a perfectionist, meaning he gets upset if he can't do something perfectly (e.g. writing, cutting, drawing, etc) he overreacts and gets mad or sad. We're trying to figure out how to help him deal with frustration without having a meltdown. He has been evaluated for developmental and behavioral disorders at school and in a private clinic, and the only area of concern is speech and language. He does have speech/language therapy twice a week. I think this is just his temperament, and he (and we!) will have to learn how to react in appropriate ways.

Last edited by sarah42; 02-15-2013 at 02:07 PM.
I probably should update as well.

No firm ADHD diagnosis as yet, but it seems like we're headed that way. Most folks I've talked to said that he would benefit from Montessori education, but guess what. The Montessori school doesn't want him.

It's like that all over. Their websites claim that this type of instruction is best for kids that need to learn at their own pace, kids with ADHD, Sensory yadda yadda but when the rubber hits the road, they only want kids without these challenges.

The public schools just push really hard to have them 'evaluated'. All ready dealing with talks to have him repeat Kindergarten.

I never knew it was such an uphill battle. Texas' education system makes things worse.

I am looking forward to having him out of school in the summer. He does so much better then.
hello.world.

Last edited by webjockey; 02-15-2013 at 03:54 PM.
Webjockey, is he in kindergarten right now? Yes, I hear you on the Montessori schools. I posted on here a while back about how we had issues with DS when he was three and attended a Montessori preschool. I feel like some private schools in general don't want to accept "difficult" children.

If your son has ADHD, are you going to try medication? I have such mixed feeling about that. No one has suggested that our DS has ADHD, but I've thought about what we'd do if that were an issue. I don't like the idea of medicating for behavior that I think is normal in kids, but when I was a teacher, I had one student who was so much more focused and behaved when he was taking medication.

I was very very hesitant to get DS evaluated a couple months ago at his public kindergarten. We had an evaluation about 1.5 years ago at a clinic that I trust completely, which found that he has expressive and receptive speech/language delays. I feared the school would come up with a long ridiculous list of what was "wrong" with him. But the only area that was outside the normal range was speech articulation--the expressive and receptive language were now normal. I still feel like he's not quite caught up in those areas, though.
Yes, he's in Kindergarten and not doing very well. As for drugs. Hells no. Frankly, even if he was diagnosed with ADHD, I still probably wouldn't put him on meds. There is way too much that is unknown about this, and the fact that children do outgrow it.

A lot of this is due to parenting and can be fixed with better techniques. I know I don't spend enough time with him and have provided him with the consistent parenting that he needs. I noticed that he started exhibiting these behaviors when we started building the house. Having 3 kids + full time work + no real external support system (without paying someone) has exasperated things.

I just gotta raise my game. I've never been around children before having my own. It's a steep learning curve but I'm getting there.

With the school, we also did not go through their evaluators etc. and payed out of pocket to get an independent evaluation. Franlky I don't trust them to put our kid's best interest first, and I don't want a paper trail in their system. The school he goes to is rated #2 best in town, but it also has no faculty of color, he's one of maybe 3 black children in the school, the didn't qualify for preK because the majority of the families are very well off. Their standards are crazy high compared to the rest of the public school system. For example, they expect him to be writing three sentences with upper case/lower case, punctuation etc. and keep a journal and have 200 sight words down pact. At first, I was ok with "fake it till you make it" but it may not be enough.

In the meantime, we're looking at other schooling options. Ones with a more diverse staff and standards more in line with what's reasonable.

Times like this I wish we lived in Europe.
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hello.world.

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