INTRODUCTION: The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) is a screening instrument for autism that can be applied to parents of children aged 18-24 months. It is self-applicable, simple, and has high sensibility and specificity. It was developed in English and it is still not available in Portuguese. In the scientific literature there is no agreement as to the translation technique, cross-cultural adaptation being one of the possibilities. The objective of the present study was to translate the M-CHAT scale from English into Brazilian Portuguese to scan early autism, preserving cross-cultural equivalence. METHOD: After obtaining permission from the author of the scale, its translation was performed, followed by its back-translation; evaluation of reference equivalence; first pretest in a sample of the target population; evaluation of general equivalence; evaluation by specialists in infantile autism; development of a preliminary version; second pretest with parents of autistic children treated in a Pediatric Ambulatory of the Brazilian Public Health System; and development of its final version. RESULTS: Evaluation of reference equivalence showed that 78% of the questions were similar, 13% approximate, and 9% different. Of the 20 people interviewed in the first pretest, nine understood 100% of the questions. The second pretest demonstrated good acceptance and understanding by the target population, with no complaints in 70% of the sample. After detailed evaluations, the final version was developed. CONCLUSION: The study makes the Portuguese version of the M-CHAT scale available, which was considered adequate by specialists and understood by the population.
Autistic disorder; scales; translation (product)