Q: “I’ve heard that if my son (who is on the autism spectrum) is having a problem staying on task while in school that he should use the “keychain rules”. Would you please explain this term to me?” – Curious in Nashville, Tenn
A: Keychain rules are short statements or phrases of desired expectations that capitalize on the tendency toward rules and structure. They serve as reminders in a quick and easy format that prevent much discussion about them. Rather than say, “stay in your seat” over and over without much impact, the teacher can now say, “Please check keychain rule number 4”. Again, if the rules are attached to a heightened interest, their effectiveness is enhanced.
This student’s interest in Greek mythology was incorporated to his keychain rules as much as possible through the addition of pictures.
Keychain Rule #1: Use appropriate words and voice
- Say nice things to others
- Speak in a respectful tone [level 1, 2, or 3]
Keychain Rule #2: Follow directions from teachers
- Teachers and Mom are trying to help me, so be sure to say “O.K. I’ll try”
- Give my teachers and Mom a smile or a “thumbs up”