Key Chain Rules

Collection of short visual rules of appropriate behaviors for a student with self-management skills.

Portable reminder

Portable reminder

Rules can go on a lanyard, in a binder, or any handy spot.

Example using Boardmaker Pictures

Example using Boardmaker Pictures

Including images can help reinforce the written rules.

Example of using a special interest

Example of using a special interest

Pictures can raise student attentiveness to the rules.

When to use:

  • Use visual supports to replace verbal directions or prompts (or make them more effective).
  • Use with a student who demonstrates the ability to self-manage.

How to Use:

  1. Identify frequently used self-management skills the student has mastered and which need to be maintained and/or generalized.
  2. On card stock create a visual and general rule (ex. I will have a calm body.) with no more than two supporting detail statements (ex. Keep hands and feet to myself. Remain seated at my desk.).
  3. Student carries the rules on a ring or in a binder for quick reference.
  4. Initially, student reviews key chain rules regularly throughout the day. The eventual goal is for students to use on an as-needed basis.


  • Incorporating the student’s topic of interest may increase their motivation to follow the rule.
  • The student should review and even practice the rules with an adult occasionally to ensure continued understanding.
  • Social narratives used in the teaching phase may be turned into key chain rules as mastery is achieved.


  • For a student who has not mastered self-management skills, an adult may carry a set of key chain rules. Staff members use the as directions or prompts (or to make them more effective). Staff members may use the rules to quickly redirect behavior.


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