What is it about?

We present the process of culturally adapting an intervention targeting Chinese immigrant families of children with autism. As we adapt an intervention called Parents Taking Action for Chinese immigrant families in the US, we developed a structured approach to efficiently translate community input from parents and providers to action steps of adaptation. We provide a detailed process for adapting so that community-based organizations, clinicians, and service providers can adopt our adaptation process to provide culturally appropriate interventions for diverse families.

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Why is it important?

Parenting varies across different cultures. As we know the diagnosis and treatment system of autism developed largely in the west. Countries like Austria and United States had gone through the process of understanding autism over many decades of trial and error. However, for parents of children with autism from non-western societies, the term autism, its etiology, and treatment approaches are relatively new. Parenting practice itself is largely affected by our cultures and contexts. Therefore, it is important to adapt interventions to meet parents of diverse backgrounds where they are in terms of understanding autism, and parenting strategies.


Often times when we adapt an intervention, it is overwhelming to navigate the complexities of adaptation tasks. Where do we start, how to organize the numerous steps we need to take after community members provide feedback and insights on what needs to be changed. I was in the same place when I adapted this intervention. So I developed a process to approach cultural adaptation with a few tangible steps as shown in figure 1. These steps start with a structured coding system combining three well-established adaptation frameworks and coding systems. Then, conduct focus groups with community members to obtain insights and feedback for modifications. The predeveloped codebook is used for analyzing and structuring the steps we need to take. Start with the contextual elements, such as how we deliver the intervention, by who, and key cultural factors that need to be incorporated. Then move on to content adaptation. For content adaptation, focus on the deep structural changes, and then finalize with the surface structure changes (e. g. pictures, sayings). This way, the adaptations are broken down into three different stages instead of an overwhelming lot without a structure to follow. I hope this approach can help those who are interested in delivering or adapting culturally appropriate parent interventions, particularly for children with autism and developmental disabilities.

Yue Xu
University of Illinois at Chicago

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Culturally adapting a parent psychoeducational intervention for Chinese immigrant families of young children with autism spectrum disorder, Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, June 2022, Wiley,
DOI: 10.1111/jppi.12432.
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