FYI Retrospective Study

Watson, L. R., Baranek, G. T., Crais, E. R., Reznick, J. S., Dykstra, J. & Perryman, T. (2007). The First Year Inventory: Retrospective parent responses to a questionnaire designed to identify one-year-olds at risk for autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 49-61.

The First Year Inventory (FYI) is a parent questionnaire designed to assess behaviors in 12-month-olds that suggest risk for an eventual diagnosis of autism. In this study, we examined the construct validity of the FYI by comparing retrospective responses of parents of preschool children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD; n = 38), other developmental disabilities (DD; n = 15), and typical development (TD; n = 40). Thus, we created a version of the FYI asking parents of preschoolers to think back to around the time of their child’s first birthday, and to respond to the questions on the FYI in terms of their child’s behavior as a 12-month-old. Children with ASD were rated at significantly higher risk on the FYI than children with DD or TD. The DD group was at intermediate risk, also significantly higher than the TD group. These retrospective data strengthen the validity of the FYI and have implications for refining the FYI to improve its utility for prospective screening of 12-month-olds. The children with ASD differed from both the DD group and the TD group on three constructs examined on the FYI: (1) Social Orienting and Receptive Communication; (2) Social Affective Engagement, and (c) Reactivity. In addition, the ASD group and the DD group differed from the TD group (but not from each other) on the constructs of (1) Imitation; (2) Expressive Communication; (3) Sensory Processing; and (4) Repetitive Play and Behavior. The only FYI construct on which the three groups of children did not reliably differ was Regulatory Patterns. The results of this study provided conceptual support for the FYI as a potentially useful tool to identify one-year-olds at elevated risk for a later diagnosis of ASD, and provided one source of data for evaluating the performance of individual FYI questions in distinguishing among the three groups of children.