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The designers and developers at Parent Co. created Notabli, the best way for families to save their kids’ photos, videos, quotes, notes, and audio clips. 


All those moments are automatically organized, making it easy to find them later by kid, date, and location. It’s a beautifully designed experience.

Over the past several months, the Notabli team built an Android app and web app to join the original iOS app, which has been featured by Apple.

The ability to print books from Notabli moments was always an important product goal. However, instead of leaning on a generic, third-party printing plugin, the design team decided to build a solution from scratch.

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The result is Automatic Photo Books. They are a new concept in photo printing, designed for the unique needs of parents.

I sat down with Jackson Latka, Jory Raphael, Katrina Weigand, and Alli Berry to learn about the design process behind Automatic Photo Books.

From left: Jory Raphael, Alli Berry, Katrina Weigand, Jackson Latka

 

Notabli for iOS has been around for a couple of years, but when did the book project kick off?

JACKSON: We’ve known for a long time that books were something that needed to be part of Notabli. But the project started late summer 2015.

It took that long to figure out where books fit in with the current product and making sure that we could do it right from the start.

Why didn’t you just use a plugin or third party printing service for Notabli?

JACKSON: That would’ve taken a lot less time to get going, but it didn’t meet our design standards or aesthetic. Early on we knew we didn’t want to work with third party plugins.

JORY: They were clunky. They forced you into landscape format when the iPhone is primarily portrait-based. Nothing fit the bill for exactly what we wanted.

JACKSON: We spent so much time crafting the face of Notabli that it felt like a regression to add a third party interface. So we built it from the ground up as a Notabli-specific feature. We wanted complete control over the interface and how the experience happens.

How did you get feedback from users and parents as you started working on this?

ALLI: Our former UX designer Katie McCurdy went out and interviewed parents. I accompanied her a couple of times. As she interviewed people, printed books were something that real-world users kept bringing up.

They were saying “I just need some way to print these out, but I don’t have the time to select and lay them out, and sit down and do it myself.”

JACKSON: As a digital product, Notabli was already providing value. Parents can save photos and videos and other moments of childhood and privately show them to family and friends.

But then it becomes about, “When can I turn my great digital collection into something physical that I can have in my home, that I can share with people so that I don’t always have to bring out another screen to share moments of my kid’s childhood?”

I mean that’s what we all grew up with. Printed photos. That’s what we’re all accustomed to, but we’ve lost a sense of the physicality and tangible nature of these objects.

Some people might be surprised that a successful digital platform is adding a major print element.

ALLI: There’s an argument that print is dead. But I think print now has a different meaning. It makes sense that parents want to print their Notabli moments. They want to hold something and show it off on their shelf. They value those moments enough to own them.

Jackson: Plus, there’s just a utility aspect of books.

What do they look like?

Katrina: Because the content of the books is relatively simple- one photo per page, with a date, location, and caption- we knew we wanted to focus on specific details to make the books feel special.

We knew we wanted to bring in the fun bright Notabli colors. So we gave users the option to select from 6 different colors for the cover, which would be repeated on their bookshelf over time as they print more and more books.

Because Notabli is all about childhood and growing up, the span of photo dates in the book is prominent on the cover and spine.

On the title page, we included the kids’ avatars and their age at the time the photos were taken. The technical ramifications of including ages was a little complicated, but we thought it was important.

 

Even the paper used in the books seems very specific.

Jory: We had a lot of different printers that we got samples from, and we tested their paper quality, the photo quality, the cover stock, and ultimately came up with the design of solid color washes.

They felt unique but simple and eye-catching. And easy. For example, parents don’t have to choose which photo is going on the cover.

At some point, you decided that one of the most important aspects of the new books would be ease of use vs. customization with frames and stickers and other embellishments. Why?

JORY: Well, because you’re a parent. Parents don’t have time for anything. Every parent we talked to if we were to ask them, “Would you like to print a photo of your kids- a book- of your kids’ photos?”

They say, “Yes.” And we’re like, “Have you done it?” They’re like, “No.”

When we ask “why not?” the response is almost always “I keep meaning to, but I don’t have the time,” or “I started one, but I didn’t finish it.”

We just wanted to save time. Like Jackson said, there are many ways to print photobooks. If people want to do it, they can do it. Let’s just make it easier for them.

JACKSON: How do we add value to that process? Beyond the idea of what the interface looks like or making it look good. I mean, from the user standpoint of actually creating the book, or not creating it, or having us do it automatically.

We had to create something that added value to the experience, as opposed to just being another place that prints books.

JORY: People spend so much time curating their content in Notabli that we wanted to make it super easy for them to get that content back out of Notabli in a printed form.

If you’re spending all, this time, curating the content you’re putting in Notabli, why should you have to then spend a whole lot more time making a book? You’ve already done the hard work; you’ve already put the best stuff here.

Let’s just print it for you and kind of take that stress out of a parent’s life. Make it just that much of a time-saver, that much easier.

“The part that we’re solving is curation.”

JACKSON: That brings up the point of why we wanted Notabli books in the first place.

Every time you add a photo to Notabli, you’re consciously doing so for a specific reason. Over time, that turns into a really great collection. If you’ve already spent time putting it together, then it makes it super simple just to print a book. That’s where we started with the idea of automatic books.

When we came together as a design team to start working on this as a product team, it was important that Notabli photo books were much easier to use than anything out there, looked great, and offered a premium, top-notch experience.

As designers, does it feel different to see something you’ve created in the physical world vs. on a screen?

ALLI: I’d say so. It’s weird because physical products feel more special. You almost feel like you made something that means more because you can hold it in your hands.

JORY: Because they’re permanent.

Jackson: I think what’s interesting about this project is that it spans physical and digital. It’s something that you’re creating in the digital world that needs to be an experience that you’re going through creating this book.

JACKSON: What I think is fascinating about that, though, is this transition that’s taken place over the last decade. You used to consider physical products as permanent. Those were the things you would keep. Digital was throw-away.

It was like, ‘it’s okay if the digital file goes away but I need the box of photos that I have of childhood.’ But now it’s almost flip-flopped in the sense that the digital is the keepsake.

If I spill coffee on my book- luckily, Notabli Books have spill-resistant covers- but if you spill coffee on the book, you can just order another one. You can just easily go back in Notabli, find the book you printed and hit reprint and another one’s shipping out to you.

How did the design team divide up tasks?

JACKSON: Katrina pretty much led books.

KATRINA: My role from the beginning was kind of investigate it in many different ways. This included everything from researching various printing vendors to refining the over-all product description of what we wanted to start with.

Katrina Weigand, Product Design

JORY: Katrina led the whole process and was doing all the initial comps and kind of the wire framing, and user flows for the book process. Like everything we do at Notabli and Parent Co., it’s all very collaborative. Though we have specific roles on projects, we’re always talking about everything. We’re always jumping off of other people’s ideas.

ALLI: It’s kind of funny – no one’s ever like, “Katrina, you’re on books!” or “Jackson!  You’re on the web!”

We all get psyched about one thing. We all know what needs to be done. But at the same time, we have to keep everything else running on Notabli.

We kind of just rotate around and fill in the gaps where they need to be filled. While everyone was gunning really hard for books,  I was assisting, but I was mostly just keeping my eye on everything else:  with Notabli’s Android app, iOS app updates, and QA.

How many developers worked on the books project?

JACKSON: All in all, there were probably six developers working on the product at different times and for different reasons. Collaboration with developers has been one of the most important things, the back and forth between the design team and the development team.

We always seem to do best when we’re both creating a shared vision as opposed to telling one another what to do.

ALLI: The best times working with developers are when we’re working with them side by side on something. You’ll work on a design for something in the morning, and you’ll send it to them.

The next day after they go over it, you’ll be talking about it and probably changing it based on what’s reasonable for them and what other ideas they have.

When you can ping-pong back and forth, that’s the best.

Sara: Do you feel like this product will change the way people interact with the app version of Notabli?

ALLI: That’s something we continually are trying to cope with. Because now it’s like, we make this change in Notabli, how’s that going to affect books? Everything has this epic domino effect. And these things are being printed.

JORY: Yeah, we always want to preserve the intentional aspect of Notabli, so that the photos people upload are ones they’ve intentionally chosen. The best of the best. But, you know, we always want to iterate and improve on that.

Right now, we’re limiting each moment to one photo. That may change in the future. I don’t think we’ll ever let people dump their entire camera all into Notabli. But if you can suddenly upload four photos per moment, how does that look in books?

Right now, we’re a photo per page which is nice. It maps nicely to the Notabli user experience.

But when there are more photos, do we put those on one page? Do we spread them out across pages? It’s an interesting and a fun challenge.

JACKSON: It’s a great question, Sara, because I think the constraint aspect for products, and especially digital products, is really important. It’s fun to work within those constraints to try to create things.  It becomes more meaningful.

Sara: I feel like this is a step in the right direction for teaching people that, you know, sense of curation.

ALLI: The digital archive and the physical archive complement each other. That’s one of the reasons we have the dates on the front of the book.

There’s something so reassuring to about seeing dates on cover of the books. It feels so organized and distilled.

JACKSON: When you talk about what it’s like designing these products, the digital and the physical book product, I think the most gratifying part is seeing how people respond to it.

Notabli has users with thousands of moments. Once those users start a book subscription, seeing 20, 30 books already created for them, and seeing them go in and purchase all of them just to know that they’re getting every moment they’ve ever added in Notabli, you know, like a really nice physical collection, is something that’s really cool to see.

What are you hearing from friends and family who’ve received these as gifts?

JACKSON: Well it’s great because these are out in the wild now. People are already getting these books. It’s exciting and gratifying to hear that people are very happy with their quality.

JORY:  You can create a book for your family. We have a bunch of grandparents using this subscription feature and aggregating all of the moments created for their grandkids, which is awesome to see.

How do you prioritize requests for new features?

JACKSON: To keep a product on track it’s important that we don’t tackle every feature request, as much as we’d like to. I think most of the time, the good news is that they already fall somewhere in line with the road map. Very few are really very far deviations from the direction we’re headed.

Sometimes, we hear something enough that it starts to change our trajectory and starts to modify te road map a little bit. Ultimately, I think we try to stay focused.

JORY: Things come up all the time that are exciting and interesting and new. We will spend a little bit of time kind of thinking through them, maybe even like sketching things out for various features on various products.

I think the ones that we end up shipping and actually creating are the ones that have stood the test of time and that keep coming up. Custom books and printing have been part of Notabli since Day 1.

The need for it has always been there and it’s kind of prioritizing. The trick is like, what comes first? What’s more important? Now that we have Notabli available on all the major platforms, it just makes sense for the next step.

JACKSON: It’s also safe to say that we aren’t always right, so we’re learning as we go and hopefully creating a really appealing product for parents and families.

How did you settle on pricing for Notabli Books?

JACKSON: We’re trying to walk the line between creating something that’s premium yet affordable. I think that was particularly important with subscription products because it’s something that someone has to say, “Yes, I’m going to enable this subscription and I’m going to start receiving these.”

We have to offer a price point that people were excited about while covering our costs for a higher-end product.

Where are these books printed?

JACKSON: The books are printed in the US. We ended up working with a wholesale printer. We started from scratch and built out a technology solution that enables us to work with them.

How much is the shipping for the subscriber or the customer?

JACKSON: Shipping is free for books that automatically print. But in addition to automatically printing or enabling a subscription, you can also print one-off books. For one-off books, the pricing is $4.99 within the US and $8.99 in Canada.

How far are you in the process of custom books?

JORY: We’re close. I think the designs are pretty much wrapped up for custom books, and for the user interface for how we do that. We’re just entering the technical side of it.

ALLI: That’ll be a little different because it’s going to start in the mobile apps first rather than in the web app. Everyone’s on their phones all the time.

Why is design relevant to parents?

JACKSON: In addition to parents being under-represented in the design world, it was one of our theories initially that fathers were under-represented as recipients of or users of kid-focused technology or parent-focused technologies. As part of our design … Really, our design rules. Our internal design rules. What we are trying to do is create a product that is not only appealing to mothers but also equally to fathers, and that you can have a playful, fun design, and it can be appealing to everyone.

Alli Berry, Product Design

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Pop quiz, mama! How many different types of car seats are there? If you guessed three, you're partially correct. The three main types are rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, and booster seats. But then there are a variety of styles as well: infant car seats, convertible seats, all-in-one seats, high-back booster seats, and backless boosters. If you're not totally overwhelmed yet, keep reading, we promise there's good stuff ahead.

There's no arguing that, in the scheme of your baby and child gear buying lifetime, purchasing a car seat is a big deal! Luckily, Walmart.com has everything you need to travel safely with your most precious cargo in the backseat. And right now, you can save big on top-rated car seats and boosters during Best of Baby Month, happening now through September 30 at Walmart.com.

As if that wasn't enough, Walmart will even take the carseat your kiddos have outgrown off your hands for you (and hook you up with a sweet perk, too). Between September 16 and 30, Walmart is partnering with TerraCycle to recycle used car seats. When you bring in an expired car seat or one your child no longer fits into to a participating Walmart store during the trade-in event, you'll receive a $30 gift card to spend on your little one in person or online. Put the money towards a brand new car seat or booster or other baby essentials on your list. To find a participating store check here: www.walmart.com/aboutbestofbabymonth

Ready to shop, mama? Here are the 9 best car seat deals happening this month.


Safety 1st Grow and Go Spring 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

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From rear-facing car seat to belt-positioning booster, Grow and Go Sprint's got you covered through childhood. Whether you choose the grey Silver Lake, Seafarer or pink Camelia color palette, you'll love how this model grows with your little one — not to mention how easy it is to clean. The machine-washable seat pad can be removed without fussing with the harness, and the dual cup holders for snacks and drinks can go straight into the dishwasher.

Price: $134 (regularly $149)

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Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Bermuda

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When your toddler is ready to face forward, this versatile car seat can be used as a five-point harness booster, a high-back booster, and a backless booster. Padded armrests, harness straps, and seat cushions provide a comfy ride, and the neutral gray seat pads reverse to turquoise for a stylish new look.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

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Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Olivia

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Looking for something snazzy, mama? This black and hot pink car seat features a playful heart print on its reversible seat pad and soft harness straps. Best of all, with its 100-pound weight limit and three booster configurations, your big kid will get years of use out of this fashionable design.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

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Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat

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This rear- and forward-facing car seat keeps kids safer, longer with an adjustable five-point harness that can accommodate children up to 65 lbs. To tighten the harness, simply twist the conveniently placed side knobs; the Infinite Slide Harness ensures an accurate fit every time. As for style, we're big fans of the cozy quilted design, which comes in two colorways: grey and magenta or grey and turquoise.

Price: $116 (regularly $149.99)

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Disney Baby Light 'n Comfy 22 Luxe Infant Car Seat

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Outfitted with an adorable pink-and-white polka dot Minnie Mouse infant insert, even the tiniest of travelers — as small as four pounds! — can journey comfortably and safely. This rear-facing design is lightweight, too; weighing less than 15 lbs, you can easily carry it in the crook of your arm when your hands are full (because chances are they will be).

Price: $67.49 (regularly $89.99)

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Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

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We know it's hard to imagine your tiny newborn will ever hit 100 lbs, but one day it'll happen. And when it does, you'll appreciate not having to buy a new car seat if you start with this 4-in-1 design! Designed to fit kids up to 120 lbs, it transforms four ways, from a rear-facing car seat to a backless belt-positioning booster. With a 6-position recline and a one-hand adjust system for the harness and headrest, you can easily find the perfect fit for your growing child.

Price: $199.99 (regularly $269.99)

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Graco SlimFit All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

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With its unique space-saving design, this 3-in-1 car seat provides 10% more back seat space simply by rotating the dual cup holders. The InRight LATCH system makes installation quick and easy, and whether you're using it as a rear-facing car seat, a forward-facing car seat, or a belt-positioning booster, you can feel confident that your child's safe and comfortable thanks to Graco's Simply Safe Adjust Harness System.

Price: $149.99 (regularly $229.99)

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Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Platinum XT Infant Car Seat

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Making sure your infant car seat is secure can be tricky, but Graco makes it easy with its one-second LATCH attachment and hassle-free three-step installation using SnugLock technology. In addition to its safety features, what we really love about this rear-facing seat are all of the conveniences, including the ability to create a complete travel system with Click Connect Strollers and a Silent Shade Canopy that expands without waking up your sleeping passenger.

Price: $169.99 (regularly $249.99)

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Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Elite Infant Car Seat

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With just one click, you can know whether this rear-facing car seat has been installed properly. Then adjust the base four different ways and use the bubble level indicator to find the proper position. When you're out and about, the rotating canopy with window panel will keep baby protected from the sun while allowing you to keep your eye on him.

Price: $129.99 (regularly $219.99)

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This article was sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Nannies and early childhood educators do incredibly important work. Parents and children need these workers, they are vital to families and our economy. And they are woefully underpaid.

On average, nannies in the United States make less than Amazon delivery drivers, and day care workers earn less than either.

According to Sittercity's most recent data, the typical hourly rate of nannies in 2019 is $17.50 per hour. According to Amazon, most delivery drivers earn $18 - $25 per hour. And day care workers make only a couple dollars more than they would working in fast food, earning $11.17 per hour on average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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What does it say about our society that we value the delivery of consumer goods more than we value care work?

Yes, parents are struggling to pay for childcare, but those caring for our children are struggling to pay their bills, too, and it is hard to retain talented professionals when there is more money to be made in other fields. "It is stressful. Everybody loves these children, and that's why they're there, but the love can't pay their bills," day care operator Danielle Frank told KSNB News this week.

Frank owns Smiling Faces Academy in Kearney, Nebraska, but the problem of high turnover and low wages in the childcare industry is an issue all over the United States. This isn't a uniquely American issue, either. In Japan, day care workers are desperately needed, the New York Times reports, but childcare workers there earn about a third less than workers in other industries and report struggling to cover the basic necessities.

Back in North America, this week day care workers in Nova Scotia, Canada who are frustrated with low wages have threatened to walk off the job, a move similar to one made by YMCA childcare workers in Chicago last year. "I make $15.50 an hour, and I have a BA in early childhood education with a certification in infants and toddlers," childcare worker Tahiti Hamer told WGN last year.

From Nebraska to Nova Scotia to the story is the same: Parents pay a lot for childcare while workers make very little, even though some licensed day cares require employees to have training in early childhood education, or even a bachelor's degree. And when you've got student loans, maybe carrying Amazon packages starts to look better than caring for children.

According to a recent study by the Indeed Hiring Lab, the childcare industry has two big problems right now.

"As the labor market has strengthened in recent years, more workers need child care. At the same time, growth in interest in child care jobs has slowed," Indeed Hiring Lab economist Nick Bunker notes. He suggests low-wage earners who work in childcare have more options these days, and employers should consider raising workers' pay.

It's easy to see why the industry has a hard time keeping workers, especially as other lower-wage job sectors (like Amazon delivery) expand. Unfortunately, for many childcare centers, paying workers more is just not doable without some help from levels of government.

And help is needed, not just to ensure that parents have access to quality, affordable childcare, but also to ensure that those providing it aren't living in poverty.

A study out of the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley, found childcare workers' earnings are not keeping pace with increases in similar professions or with the costs of childcare and living. "Childcare workers have also experienced no increase in real earnings since 1997, and, as was true in 1989, still earn less than adults who take care of animals, and barely more than fast food cooks. Those who work as preschool teachers have fared somewhat better; their wages have increased by 15 percent in constant dollars since 1997, although their wages remain low. In contrast, parent fees have effectively doubled," the researchers note, highlighting that many childcare workers earn so little they actually qualify for public assistance.

The researchers continue: "While there are no available data to explain this glaring gap between trends in parent fees and teacher wages, it is abundantly clear that families cannot bear the burden of addressing the imperative to provide more equitable compensation for their children's early childhood teachers."

Speaking to the Education Writers Association last year one of the reports' writers, Marcy Whitebook, the founding director of the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California at Berkeley, said the problem is that our society devalues the work of looking after and educating children under 5, even though it is as demanding and important as teaching those ages 5 and up.

"Americans aren't used to funding early childhood care and instruction like they do K-12 education," Whitebook said. "We don't look at it as education. And we don't look at it as education everyone should have access to."

That may change in the future, as presidential candidates float plans for universal pre-K and childcare, but right now, having access to childcare is a privilege. And those who are privileged enough to employ a nanny should pay them fairly if they want to keep them, says Elizabeth Harz, CEO of Sittercity. "It's also worth noting that when parents are proactive and offer systems and official paperwork that give nannies protection in the relationship, it goes a long way," says Harz.

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News

Children with autism open our eyes and our hearts to growth, beauty and love in unexpected, marvelous and deep ways that expand our humanity. But, an autism diagnosis is a moment that stays with a parent.

Some parents might have trouble understanding what's happening. Others may worry or have a sense of relief that there's a name for what they've noticed in their child. Regardless of your emotions, there's not a right or wrong way to feel.

Here are seven areas to cover after receiving an autism diagnosis:

1. Line up great medical care.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids with autism often have other associated medical issues such as gastrointestinal issues, language delay or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Depending on where you live, your medical choices might be sparse or specialist-rich. Getting good, consistent healthcare is invaluable and establishes important baselines, routines and trust. How do you know which specialists or family doctors have the skills you and your child need? Ask those who have gone before you.

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Medicaid provides services for children on the spectrum but there are simply not enough providers who accept Medicaid. Waiting lists in some states can be as long as 15 years. If Medicaid is part of your family's life, get your child on the waiting list as soon as possible. While you wait, look into attorneys and advocates for additional support. A good advocate will ensure you have a primary role in your child's education, regardless of the insurance plan you may or may not have.

If you don't qualify for Medicaid, the ACA marketplace (also known as the exchange) offers affordable coverage for those who qualify. If your family has private health insurance, call to see what your benefits are so you're prepared.

2. Understand your insurance coverage.

Autism is a medical diagnosis and should be covered by health insurance, but it's not that simple. Many health insurance plans do not cover therapeutic treatment for autism. From 2005 to 2015, Autism Speaks battled within state legislatures to make sure autism treatments were covered under health insurance. Through those efforts, 47 states passed related legislation. But many of those laws address only traditional insurance programs not self-insured companies (which cover most workers), and some have been weakened by loopholes exploited by insurance companies. Make a call to find out exactly what kind of coverage you have.

3. Find a community.

Autism can feel isolating, but it doesn't have to be. There are many autism support groups, some formal like chapters of the Autism Society of America or Autism Speaks and some unaffiliated groups of parents who have bonded in mutual support along the autism journey. Learn from others. Share your story. Find communities of support in churches, parks, restaurants and stores that have a heart and respect you and your child.

4. Start support.

Autism is highly variable. There are a number of decades-long treatments that address autism such as Floortime, Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication related handicapped Children (TEACCH), and the Early Start Denver Model. The most research-backed treatment is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and it's therapy based on the science of learning and behavior. It focuses on improving specific behaviors, such as social skills, communication, reading and academics as well as adaptive learning skills. It is practiced by Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) and is the most common treatment approach covered by insurance. There are less than 30,000 BCBAs in the nation, but it is a rapidly growing profession with increasingly greater access for families in need of ABA.

5. Find a good support system if you need a break.

Make sure you have loving and qualified family, friends, or professional childcare providers who can stay with your child so you can have an established date night or occasional weekend away. Such activities are important for all parents of young children but they can be especially critical for parents with children on the spectrum. Finding people who understand your child's needs, routines and sensitivities is vital to offering you an evening out while keeping things balanced on the home front. The important thing to remember is having an autisic child is beautiful and it's okay to reach out for help if you need it.

6. Contact your local school district.

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) school districts, often in coordination with the public health office, are responsible for providing services from birth. Part C of IDEA mandates that schools conduct "Child Find" to locate children who need help. Among other things, Part C services can provide speech, occupational, physical and behavioral therapies to your child, often delivered in your home, and at no expense. It is part of the commitment of special education to assist families in having their children ready to learn by the time they start school. For help, call your local school district and request a meeting to begin the journey of getting the assistance your little one needs.

7. Establish a financial plan.

Many children with autism will grow into healthy self-sufficient adults, but some may require varying levels of support. That is why having a financial and assistance plan that looks after their long-term needs is essential. It's tough, but having important conversations with your partner and members of your family will help your little one in the long run. If you need advice, look into Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) to assist with creating a tax-advantaged savings account to pay for qualified expenses.

The bottom line is simple: This is hard and there will be challenges, but you've got this, mama. There will also be more beauty in this journey than you can ever imagine. The main thing to remember is that your child has you as their mother, which means they're already doing great.

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Learn + Play

It's time for Halloween! And you love dressing up. Or you hate dressing up but your family or friends or next door neighbor really want you to dress up. Oh, and also you're pregnant. 🤰🏽So what the heck are you supposed to be?

Don't sweat it, mama. We spoke to Pinterest to find out their top pinned maternity Halloween costumes, and there are some fun (and funny ideas) in the mix.

Whether you're 8 or 38 weeks pregnant, you'll be sure to find some Halloween inspiration right here. Time to get spooky!

1. Mummy-to-be 

www.pinterest.com

Via Womans Day

Bonus points because this punny costume looks super easy to DIY.

2. Your favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle

Via Pinterest

Besides it being an easy costume to make, you get to eat pizza all night. Win-win!

3. Gumball machine 

www.pinterest.com

Via Brit+ Co

This one requires a glue gun and some extra craftiness, but the result is a sweet treat.

4. Kangaroo 

www.pinterest.com

Via The Spruce

Grab a stuffed baby kangaroo and you're halfway there.

5. Mommy to BEE 

www.pinterest.com

Via Redbook

Buzz buzz. You look bee-utiful.

6. Violet from Willy Wonka

Via Pinterest

Can be a family costume or a stand alone, just make sure you have tons of make up remover handy before going to bed.

7. Mama bird 

www.pinterest.com

via Brit + Co

What kind of a mama bird will you be? A flamingo? A peacock?

8. Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc. 

www.pinterest.com

via Buzzfeed

Grab a spare shirt and your crafting skills to turn yourself into a literal monster.

9. Mother earth 

www.pinterest.com

via Darian Davenport

You've got the whole world in your hands... and belly.

10. Pregnant Beyonce

Via Instagram

You get to be Queen Bey for a day.

11. Baseball player 

www.pinterest.com

via the Bump

You come prepared with your own bat, and ball.

12.  Prego 

www.pinterest.com

via Brit + Co

Come on. You knew this one was coming...

13. Snowman

www.pinterest.com

Via Ashley Engel

If you have black leggings and a white top, you're already winning Halloween!

14. Juno

Via Costume Works

Such a classic, plus you will get to wear your comfy maternity jeans all night long.

15. Pregnant unicorn

Via Pregnant Mama

Requires very little purchasing and prep.

16. Troll

Via Brit + Co

This one can easily turn into a family costume if everyone is down for a big wig and a sparkly belly button.

17. A magic 8 ball

Via WeBegToDiffer

You can spend the night answering everyone's questions.

18. An emoji

Via Brit+Co

Just pick your fave!

19. A beach ball

Via Instagram

Only for those mamas in warm weather!

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Life

I will confess: I am a car seat safety fanatic. Some people might call me an advocate, but let's be real. I verge on crazy status.

I kept my kids rear-facing well past the age of two. I've schlepped their car seats on and off of airplanes more times than I can count. I've checked their installation again and again until it is JUST RIGHT. Yes, I am that mama. But, I make no apologies. Why should I? If there's one thing I'm crazy about, it's my kids' safety.

That's why I was surprised—no, shocked—to discover that a car seat safety rule exists that I didn't know about. As a result, I was unknowingly putting my son in an unsafe position.

FEATURED VIDEO

You're probably already familiar with the LATCH safety system. LATCH is an acronym for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children and is the preferred method for installing your car seat. These are the anchor points in your car that allow you to clip your car seat directly into the frame of your car's existing seat.

For years, since my oldest was born, I have been obsessive about always using the LATCH system. When we shuffle the car seats around, I always situate the kids' in the seats with a LATCH system, even when it makes for undesirable seating combinations, like adults jammed into middle seats while my toddlers lounge like kings in the captain's chairs.

Recently though, a fellow mom (who also happens to be a Car Seat Safety Technician) shared a car seat installation rule I'd never heard before: The LATCH system in most vehicles is only built to accommodate a load of 65 pounds.

Sure, no problem, I thought. My oldest is nowhere near 65 pounds. But, she pointed out that 65-pound limit includes the weight of the child restraint, a.k.a. car seat. Do you realize how heavy car seats are these days? In order to use the LATCH system, the sum of the child's weight and the weight of the car seat must be no more than 65 pounds. Since most car seats weigh upwards of 20 pounds now, many manufacturers recommend that you stop using the LATCH system when a child reaches 40 pounds. I had no idea!

Now my son's car seat is secured with the seat strap. When he's done with the five-point harness and transitions to using the seat strap himself, we can return to using the LATCH system. At that point, the straps are made to absorb his impact in the event of a crash, and the LATCH system would then only be used to keep the seat from catapulting through the car. For a list of LATCH weight limits by manufacturer, refer to your car's manufacturer.
Parenting
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