Dyadic Communication Measure for Autism (DCMA)

The Dyadic Communication Measure for Autism (DCMA) is a measure of the natural flowing dyadic communication interaction between parent and child in a free play context. It was originally designed to capture aspects of communication in young children with autism and aspects of the parent communication style that are often targeted in communication-focussed interventions. It Is grounded in the theory and research on pragmatic language development in children, specifically in children with autism.

The DCMA was developed in the PACT pilot study (Aldred et al., 2004) and applied in the PACT trial (Green et al., 2010). It was found to be a reliable measure, sensitive to change in the key target indices in these studies.

The DCMA involves video-recording the parent and child playing together in a natural way using a standard set of toys. The interaction is then coded from video-tape and three levels of the interaction are observed:

  1. Parent synchrony and responsiveness
  2. Child communicative initiations, responses and communicative functions
  3. Amount of mutual shared attention between parent and child

The DCMA is being adapted for use in South Asia and is a key outcome measure in the PASS Trial.

The DCMA is also being extended for use with children with autism between the age of 7 and 11 years, who may have higher levels of conversational ability. This is for use in the PACT 7-11 Follow-Up Study.

For more information on the DCMA including training opportunities, please contact:

Kathy Leadbitter
email: Kathy.leadbitter@manchester.ac.uk