4 Compartment Communicator Device!


This just came in the mail and I am SUPER excited! This is a 4 Compartment Communicating device.  I got this device ordered for one of my lowest students.  I have a 5th grade non verbal boy with severe autism.  He can tantrum/cry for hours in a day when we are unable to figure out what he wants.  He is unable to tell us or show us what he wants.  He will usually just stay seated and cry unless prompted by staff.  This is his first year in my class and I am SO desperately trying to introduce a communication system for him to reduce the self abusive behaviors.  I have set up a mini PEC's book with 4 simple pecs to start.  He is hand over hand dependent at this time.

This student will cry and demonstrate self abusive behaviors.  He will cry until I am able to figure out what he wants, simply through trial and error.  Over the past eight weeks, I have found that he cries for food 90% of the time.  It has taken awhile to find this out, simply because I would take him to several places on campus, introduce toys, activities and snacks and most of the time he would continue to cry.  The only time I could get him to calm down was by giving him a bag of chips. 

AHHHH HAAAA.  Now I know what he wants.

Next step? Teach him to communicate to me WHAT he wants.  

If he stops crying when I give him chips or food, then I know that is what he wants.  I must not simply give him chips to get the crying to stop, I must prompt him to request the item/snack.  I was using a PEC's book for the month of October. He would hand over a PEC to receive one bite of the pictured snack.  This was an agonizing activity as he still continues to try to grab the whole bag of chips/snack from staff.  His crying and tantruming would get worst through this process at first, but it is slowly getting better.  It may be mean to give him only one bite at a time, but I must in order to increase the practice time of requesting what he wants.

Now, when he begins to cry, I prompt him to the back table where his device is always placed.  I have him bring his work with him as well. (Pictured below shows that he began to tantrum during calendar time, so, he brought his calendar book with him.)

Each colored button can be programed to say a different message.  For this student, we are only working on requesting food items at this time as this is highly reinforcing for him.  My kiddo has learned to press a button and a staff member will hand him ONE piece of food or allow him ONE sip of water/milk.  I love this device because it provides a voice output for my non-verbal kiddo.

With this device for this kiddo, I am not using pictures at this time. I am using the real objects placed in each compartment.  This kiddo does not yet match real objects to pictures so I am working on him requesting the actual item in each compartment for the time being.

Once he begins to master this on his own without prompting, I will being to introduce the use of other objects/food items that are less preferred. 

Have you ever used a 4 Compartment Communicating Device in your classroom!?


  1. Did your school purchase this? I had one a long time ago when I taught in VA. I loved being able to have the student does a button to hear what they want. So simple but oh so great?

    1. Yes, my school purchased it for one of my kiddo's! I love it :)

  2. Wow - this is amazing. It sounds like you are doing awesome!!! Keep up the good work, I look forward to hearing more updates on this guy.