Meet Greta. She's a mom who's concerned about her daughter's behavior.

"My 4-year-old daughter Chiara throws some tantrums that are so severe they can last for almost an hour and she has a hard time sitting still," Greta told Upworthy. "Just the thought of taking her to a restaurant gives me anxiety."


It's not always happy smiles for Greta and Chiara. Photo from Greta Biagi, used with permission.

There are a lot of parents like Greta who struggle with their kids' behavior — whether it's tantrums, lack of verbalization, or something else — and wonder if it's just a phase or something more serious.

Approximately 15% of children in the U.S. have developmental disorders ranging from impaired speech to behavioral issues. Knowing the warning signs early can make a big difference in the life of a child.

Cognoa, a consumer healthcare startup, decided to throw its hat in the ring to help give parents peace of mind.

Even though parents understand that early intervention is important, access to quality healthcare assessments can be difficult and expensive.

That's why Cognoa is helping parents track their kids' development with clinical-grade behavioral assessments that are free and easy to get.

The company created an app based on technology developed at Harvard and Stanford medical schools. Data collected from over 100,000 parents with kids between the ages of 18 months and 6 years is used to identify risks for developmental delays using complex algorithms.

"Cognoa is building a dataset with tens of thousands of parents to better understand what behaviors are most concerning to families of young children," said Brent Vaughan, CEO of Cognoa. "We want to use this information to empower every parent to best help their children early, when it matters most."

That's the science-y part.

Thankfully the process for parents is pretty simple.

Just download the Cognoa app and answer 15 questions about your child. It's only takes a few minutes.



Then, you'll get some preliminary results to look over.

All of the preliminary results are provided with some super helpful tips. Photo from Cognoa, used with permission.

And for parents who want more detailed analysis of their children, Cognoa allows them to upload short videos of their little ones at home. The video is then reviewed by analysts who provide an assessment.

For those who want even more detail, Cognoa is able to accommodate them. Photo from Cognoa, used with permission.

The folks at Cognoa stress that they do not provide medical advice. (And there are some experts who wonder if there is an actual gain to screening young children for developmental disorders.)

Instead, the app's purpose is to provide guidance and education to parents about their kids' development. As always, parents should consult pediatricians if they're concerned about the behavior of their children.

But for parents like Greta, this kind of check-in was exactly what she needed. After completing the assessment for Chiara, she was able to determine that her daughter is right on track.

"Chiara is a very bright kid, but she's also very strong-willed," Greta said. "Using this app let me breathe a sigh of relief knowing that there's nothing more serious going on."

A big part of having peace of mind as a parent is knowing that you're not alone.

Whether there's a serious issue at hand or not, dealing with a child's confusing behavior is a big challenge for any parent.

Luckily, Cognoa has thousands of registered parents who have similar parenting concerns. Being a part of its parent groups provides users with that "we're in this together" feeling that a lot moms and dads value.

There are thousands of parents to lean on for advice and support. Photo from Cognoa, used with permission.

Got questions? Feel free to ask and get feedback from other parents.

Getting parental peace of mind on a smartphone is invaluable. Photo from Cognoa, used with permission.

One mom wishes the Cognoa app was available a few years ago for her young son.

Michelle has a 5-year-old son named Jacob with autism spectrum disorder. After using the Cognoa app, she knows a lot of parents would benefit from it.

Michelle and her son Jacob are all smiles. Photo from Michelle Mironer, used with permission.

"I used to go online and take various autism tests and came away completely confused," Michelle said. "Using the app confirmed what I already knew about Jacob, but I can see it being really helpful for the parents who are unsure about their kids' development."

We all want to give our kids the best chance to live happy and healthy lives, and it looks like the folks at Cognoa are doing their part to ensure parents have the necessary information to make that a reality.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

Keep Reading Show less

It can be hard to find hope in hard times, but we have examples of humanity all around us.

I almost didn't create this post this week.

As the U.S. reels from yet another horrendous school massacre, barely on the heels of the Buffalo grocery store shooting and the Laguna Woods church shooting reminding us that gun violence follows us everywhere in this country, I find myself in a familiar state of anger and grief and frustration. One time would be too much. Every time, it's too much. And yet it keeps happening over and over and over again.

I've written article after article about gun violence. I've engaged in every debate under the sun. I've joined advocacy groups, written to lawmakers, donated to organizations trying to stop the carnage, and here we are again. Round and round we go.

It's hard not to lose hope. It would be easy to let the fuming rage consume every bit of joy and calm and light that we so desperately want and need. But we have to find a balance.

Keep Reading Show less