Key Chain Rules

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

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 them as directions or prompts (or to make them more effective). Staff members may use the rules to quickly redirect behavior.