Interdisciplinary Research
Spotlight on Dr. Michaela DuBay,
Assistant Professor of Education in the Department of Human Services, University of Virginia
Research Focus 
Cultural adaptation; Spanish; Latinx; Autism spectrum disorders; Early identification; Translation

How the Research Links to the DEC Recommended Practices
In the area of Assessment, the DEC recommends that assessment materials match the family's cultural and linguistic characteristics and that information is obtained about the child's skills in daily life activities in multiple natural environments. This research article aims to culturally and linguistically align early autism screening measures with families from diverse backgrounds. Also, the parent-report nature of the measure used in the study allows for collection of data on the child's skills in daily activities in multiple environments where the parent observes their behavior.
"Rigorous translation and cultural adaptation of an autism screening tool: First Years Inventory as a case study."
DuBay, M., Watson, L. R., Baranek, G. T., Lee, H., Rojevic, C., Brinson, W., Smith, D., Sideris, J. (2021). Rigorous translation and cultural adaptation of an autism screening tool: First Years Inventory as a case study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 51, 3917-3928.
Dr. Michaela DuBay
Researcher Biography
Michaela DuBay is an Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Virginia. A speech-language pathologist by training and practice, Dr. DuBay now specializes in early identification and intervention for autism spectrum disorders. Through community-based mixed-methods approaches, she researches how assessment and intervention methods can be modified to meet the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse families. Dr. DuBay’s research has centered around the translation and cultural adaptation process for parent-report autism screening tools and parent-mediated interventions, specifically for Spanish-speaking Latin populations.
A Summary of the Article & Key Takeaways
Screening measures for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) serve a vital role in early identification of children who may need ASD evaluation and support. As our societies become more culturally and linguistically diverse, many of the ASD screening measures that were originally developed in English are being translated into other languages and used with culturally diverse populations. Recent studies suggest that traditional "forward-back" translation methods, commonly used in early childhood development fields, may not sufficiently maintain linguistic, construct, or technical equivalence between a translation and its original version. If a translated tool does not retain these levels of equivalence, the new translated screening measures may not meet high psychometric standards for validity in the new population.

This study implemented an alternative rigorous translation and cultural adaptation process by translating the First Years Inventory v3.1 (FYI; Baranek et al., 2013), a parent-report ASD screening questionnaire that was originally developed in English in the US. A translation and cultural adaptation team, including both ASD experts and parents of children in the target age range, conducted a multi-step process. Multiple rounds of forward translation, quality checking through pre-testing, interviews with Spanish-speaking parents of children in the target age range, back translation, and consensus meetings resulted in a Spanish-language version of the FYI culturally-aligned to US-based Latinx Spanish-speaking families.

The article details challenges encountered during the adaptation process. Over 80% of items, along with the title, instructions, and answer choices, presented significant challenges that required multiple rounds of edits and adaptations in order to be understood by target families. Back translation, traditionally the only quality checking method used, did not identify the majority of problems, and misidentified some items as containing errors. Cognitive interviews with target families identified the most challenges. Undertaking this rigorous process requires more resources, but may result in more valid measures for diverse families.