The First-Year Inventory (Baranek, Watson, Crais & Reznick, 2003; FYI) is a parent-report questionnaire developed by our team as a general population-screening tool to identify 12-month-old infants who might be at-risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or a related developmental disorder. The FYI covers two broad developmental domains: social communication and sensory regulatory functions. The two domains are further defined by eight specific constructs: social orienting and receptive communication, social-affective engagement, imitation, expressive communication, sensory processing, regulatory patterns, reactivity, and repetitive behavior.

The 63 items on the FYI are based upon the empirical literature related to early symptoms of ASD, as well as our team’s retrospective video analysis research of infants at nine to 12 months of age who later received a diagnosis of ASD, and prospective validation studies of diagnostic outcomes in infants at one year of age. Several validation studies have been conducted, including a normative study on a large community sample (Reznick et al., 2007), a retrospective comparison of children with ASD and those with developmental disabilities (Watson et al., 2007), a three-year prospective outcome analysis of a large community sample (Turner-Brown et al., 2013), and an outcome study of a high-risk sample of infants siblings of children with autism (Baranek et al., 2015).

The FYI is currently only available for research purposes; however, we are in the process of field testing its clinical utility. It has also been translated into several languages including Spanish, Hebrew, Dutch-Flemish, Italian, & Chinese) for use in research studies internationally. If you are interested in using the FYI for research, please contact Claire Chen.

We used funding from Autism Speaks to develop a new version of the FYI that spans a broader age range and taps additional behaviors indicated by recent research. Scoring for the new FYI will be based on longitudinal data from an extensive cohort of infants whose families participate in the ongoing North Carolina Child Development Survey.

FYI Normative Study

The development of the FYI has proceeded in phases. In phase one, researchers compiled a list of infant behaviors that might predict a subsequent diagnosis of ASD and then develop a set of questions that would allow parents to report on their child’s tendency to display these behaviors. In phase two, the FYI was mailed to 6,000 families and 1,500 completed FYIs were used to determine normative response patterns for each FYI question that provided a basis for a scoring algorithm to identify infants at risk for an eventual diagnosis of ASD. In phase three, follow-up data based on parent-report and clinical assessment is being used to validate the FYI, revise the scoring algorithm, and identify FYI questions that were not effective. Phase four will be an update of the FYI questions.

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.

FYI Translations

Translations of the First Year Inventory (Baranek, Watson, Crais, & Reznick, 2003) are underway in several languages (e.g., Spanish, Hebrew, Chinese) and researchers in a variety of countries are using the FYI in their research efforts. The FYI authors are gratified by the interest in translations of our parent questionnaire, a tool developed with the aim of detecting risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in one year olds. We welcome collaborative efforts with other researchers, including those who are interested in translating the FYI into other languages.