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Family

Is your child's behavior worrying you? This app might help.

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.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

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