- A Brief Explanation of Discrete Trial Training
- Supporting Students with Asperger's Syndrome Who Present Behavioral Challenges
- Applied Behavior Analysis: A Focus on Outcomes
- A Challenge to Reframe our Thinking About Behavior
- Concerning Consequences: What Do I Do When...?
- Consequences, Behavior, and My Birds
- Don't Forget About Self Management
- Ever Had a Crisis Kind of Day?
- Movement Difference: A Closer Look at the Possibilities
- Movement Differences Among Some People with Autism: an Impetus to Re-Examine Behavioral Issues
- Observing Behavior Using A-B-C Data
- Positive Behavior Supports Creating Meaningful Life Options for People with ASD
- Ten Steps Towards Supporting Appropriate Behavior
- The Challenge of Combining Competing Input in the Classroom
- "Your Attitude Just Might Be My Biggest Barrier"
- Applied Behavior Analysis: The Role of Task Analysis and Chaining
- Tips for Choosing a Provider for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
- What to Consider When Looking for a Qualified ABA Provider
- Assessment Day: Questions About the Communication Development of Your Young Child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- “If They Could Only Tell Me What They Are Thinking.” The Need for Augmentative Communication for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Aiding Comprehension of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders During One-on-One Interactions
- Can Social Pragmatic Skills Be Tested?
- Comprehension of the Message: Important Considerations for Following Directions
- First Steps and the Journey to a Diagnosis of ASD for a Child under Three
- Functional Categories of Delayed Echolalia
- Functional Categories of Immediate Echolalia
- Initial Guidelines for Developing a Communication Intervention Plan for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Significant Limitations in Communication Ability
- Long and Short Term Strategies for Reducing Specific Repetitive Questions
- Successfully Using PECS with Children with ASD
- Meeting the Challenge of Social Pragmatics with Students on the Autism Spectrum
- Opportunity to Communicate: A Crucial Aspect of Fostering Communication Development
- Reading with Your School-Age Child: Building Vocabulary One Word at a Time
- Social Communication and Language Characteristics Associated with High Functioning, Verbal Children and Adults with ASD
- The 21st Century Speech Language Pathologist and Integrated Services in Classrooms
- The High Functioning Person with an Autism Spectrum Disorder: A "Tourist" in His Native Country
- The Role of the School Speech Language Pathologist and the Student with Autism
- Using a Visual Support to Enhance WH Question
- Visual Resources for Enhancing Communication for Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Disabilities
- Visual Schedules and Choice Boards: Avoid Misinterpretation of their Primary Functions
- Visual Supports: Sources for Symbols for Receptive and Expressive Communication
- What is the Picture Exchange Communication System or PECS?
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- PICO - A Decision Making Tool For Selecting Apps
- Helping Your Child to Develop Communication Skills
- Evidence-Based Practices for Effective Communication and Social Intervention
- Important Predictors
- The Use of Technology in Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Collaborative Teaming
- Educational Programming
- Academic Supports for College Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Advice from Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder to Teachers Regarding Literacy Instruction
- Advice for Peer Tutors
- Applying the Ziggurat and CAPS Model in Your School District
- Aspects of Support for Learning
- A Young Adult's Guide to Deep Breathing as a Relaxation Technique: A Personalized Fact Sheet
- Can Schedule Usage Training Include Elements of Literacy Instruction?
- Clean Up Your Act! Creating an Organized Classroom Environment for Students on the Spectrum.
- Change is Good! Supporting Students on the Autism Spectrum when Introducing Novelty
- Classroom Choreography: The Art of Scheduling Staff and Students
- Complexities of Instructional Support
- Creating a Circle of Support
- Critical Features of Early Intervention: Merging Best Practices
- Developing Long Term Relationships Between School and Parents
- Early Intervention for Young Children on the Autism spectrum: Parent’s Perspective
- Educating Students with Autism: Are There Differences in Placement?
- Establishing Long Term Goals: What Are We Hoping to Achieve
- For General Education Teachers: Helpful Questions to Ask About Students with ASD
- Get Engaged: Designing Instructional Activities to Help Students Stay On-Task
- "Ham It Up and Get It Cookin!!" Thoughts From Dr. Greenspan
- Home-School Communication
- "I Can Do It Myself!" Using Work Systems to Build Independence in Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- “I Wake Up for MY Dream!” Personal Futures Planning Circles of Support, MAPS and PATH
- Life After High School...So Now What
- Literacy Resources
- Lovaas Revisited: Should We Have Ever Left?
- Making the Most of Morning Meeting
- Motivating Students Who Have Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Moving from Preschool to Kindergarten: Planning for a Successful Transition and New Relationships
- Peer Support Programs
- Promoting the Educational Success of Students with Autism: The Role of the Parent-Staff Relationship
- Planning for Successful Transitions Across Grade Levels
- Practical Steps to Writing Individualized Education Program (IEP) Goals: And Writing Them Well
- Practical Recommendations for Utilizing a Range of Instructional Approaches in General Education Settings
- Recognizing Different Types of Readers with ASD
- Reframing Our Thinking and Getting to Know the Child
- Restricted Repertoires in Autism and What We Can Do About It
- School Cultures that Support Students Across the Autism Spectrum
- Service Learning: Something to Think About
- Supporting Staff Using Coaching Model
- Supporting Students with Asperger's Syndrome
- Teaching Students Who Are Low-Functioning: Who Are They and What Should We Teach?
- Theory of Mind in Autism: Development, Implications, and Intervention
- There is No Place Called Inclusion
- The Road to Post-Secondary Education: Questions to Consider
- Tips for Teaching High-Functioning People with Autism
- Tips to Consider When Including a Student with ASD in Art, Music, or Physical Education
- Transition: Preparing for a Lifetime
- Transition to Middle School
- Transition Time: Helping Individuals on the Autism Spectrum Move Successfully from One Activity to Another
- Understanding the Design and Power of a Personal Schedule
- Using Visual Schedules: A Guide for Parents
- Who Are We Working for Anyway? Avoiding Personal Agendas at Meetings to Better Support Individuals Across the Autism Spectrum
- Structured Teaching Strategies: A Series
- Growing Up Together
- How to Open A Combination Lock/Locker
- Supporting Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders Through Postsecondary Transition
- Curriculum Materials and Programs for Individuals on the Autism Spectrum
- Implementation and Effectiveness of Using Video Self-Modeling with Students with ASD
- Video Self-Modeling How To and Examples
- Advocates: Qualities to Look for and Choosing the Correct One for YOU
- Considering an Overnight Camp Program for your Child on the Autism Spectrum?
- Finding or Starting a Support Group
- Making the Most of the Holidays for Your Family and Your Son/Daughter on the Autism Spectrum
- Selected Bibliography for Families of People within the Autism Spectrum
- Selected National Resources for Information on Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Selected Resources for Understanding and Supporting Siblings
- Setting the Stage for Parent-Professional Collaboration
- Siblings Perspectives: Some Guidelines for Parents
- What About the Dads?
- When Your Child is Diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- What to Do If You Suspect Your Son/Daughter Might Have an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- For Parents: Preparing for the School Year
- Self Help/Medical
- Teaching a Young Man to Shave
- An Introduction to Possible Biomedical Causes and Treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorders
- The "M" Word
- Mealtime and Children on the Autism Spectrum: Beyond Picky, Fussy, and Fads
- Good Night, Sleep Tight, and Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite:
- Taking Your Son/Daughter with an Autism Spectrum Disorder to the Dentist
- Teaching a Young Woman to Shave
- Anxiety and Panic Struggles
- Anxiety and Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Having THE Talk with Your Child with ASD
- General Information
- Assessment Processes for Autism Spectrum Disorders: Purpose and Procedures
- Autism Awareness Month: Facts and Tips for Working with Individuals on the Autism Spectrum
- Diagnostic Criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Diagnostic Criteria for Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder
- Disability Information for Someone who has an Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Customized Example
- Getting Started: Introducing Your Child to His or Her Diagnosis of Autism or Asperger Syndrome
- Increasing Incidence of Autism Spectrum Disorders Continues in Indiana
- Standardized Tests and Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Article 7, Title 511
- What’s in a Name: Our Only Label Should Be Our Name: Avoiding the Stereotypes
- For Physicians: Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorders and Working with Schools
- Behavioral Issues and the Use of Social Stories
- How to “Lose the Training Wheels:” A New Way to Teach Bicycle Riding
- Living in Fear: Anxiety in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Local Community Resources to Enhance Activities
- Making (and Keeping) Friends: A Model for Social Skills Instruction
- Making Camps Accessible for All
- Play in the Lives of Young Children with Autism
- Play Time: An Examination Of Play Intervention Strategies for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Social Activity Groups: Another Approach for Helping to Bridge the Friendship Gap
- Teaching Social Skills through Theatre
- The Collective Outcomes of School-Based Social Skill Interventions for Children on the Autism Spectrum
- The Value of Movement Activities for Young Children
- We All Need Exercise
- Finding a Friend in School
- Bullying and Students on the Autism Spectrum
- Incorporating Typical Peers Into the Social Learning of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Articles by Temple Grandin
- An Inside View of Autism
- Choosing the Right Job for People with Autism or Asperger's Syndrome
- Evaluating the Effects of Medication
- Genius May Be an Abnormality: Educating Students with Asperger's Syndrome, or High Functioning Autism
- Making the Transition from the World of School into the World of Work
- Social Problems: Understanding Emotions and Developing Talents
- Teaching Tips for Children and Adults with Autism
Creating a Circle of Support
Contributed By Kim Davis
Since birth, we have been creating an intricate network of people in our lives; friends and/or family who are there for us in times of trouble, sorrow, and celebration. Those friends take an interest in us and our lives because we share common threads that bind us to one another. This group is called our Circle of Support or Friends. They are people we value in our lives who help us achieve our dreams or lend a hand when we are in need. We can count on them to be there for us. These relationships are formed in many ways, but generally come from meeting people in different places and environments. Meeting people, for most of us, occurs naturally and for the entirety of our lives. Judith Snow, a woman with a significant disability, explains it further and has described four different circles of relationships that everyone has in their lives.
Circle One: The CIRCLE OF INTIMACY is made up of those who we share great intimacy, our secrets, and heartfelt emotions. These are people or perhaps animals or objects that are so dear to us that their absence would impact us greatly. This may or may not include family members.
Circle Two: The CIRCLE OF FRIENDSHIP is made up of those people who are friends or relatives who we call upon to go out to dinner, see a movie, but are not those who we consider our most dear friends or those we must see regularly.
Circle Three: The CIRCLE OF PARTICIPATION is where you belong and includes the names of the people or organizations you participate with in life. This could contain spiritual groups, where you work, where you went or go to school, clubs, organizations, athletic teams, or where you participate and interact with people. Some of these individuals may later be in Circle one or two! Circle Three is the garden for sowing future relationships.
Circle Four: The CIRCLE OF EXCHANGE is made up of people who are paid to be in our lives. Doctors, teachers, dentists, social workers, therapists, hairdressers, car mechanics, and the like make up the numbers here.
Snow explains that when we look at the four circles for people without disabilities, we can see that there is a fair number in each circle. However, if we were to look at the circles for people with disabilities, especially children, we would see a VERY DIFFERENT PATTERN. For people with disabilities, there may be people in Circle One and Circle Four. Actually, in many instances, circle four explodes with people paid to be in their lives. Circle Three, the key circle, has minimal organizations or social opportunities available for them and thus, children with disabilities are excluded from creating connections to others and developing a true circle of friends or support. This sort of division can put a huge financial and emotion burden on families. A Circle of Support can begin to alleviate some of that strain and burden for the family; however it does take work and planning.
While most of us have an easy and natural time creating wonderful circles of support, people with autism or other disabilities are left to struggle with this aspect of their lives. That is why helping them create a circle of support/friends can be a way to support their ability to develop meaningful relationships.
How does one go about creating a circle of support/friends? What are the steps to follow? There are multiple factors to consider and each is crucial to the success of the circle.
First and foremost is to establish who the focus person is. This person is the one who will be the driving force; the center of all discussion and planning. Once this has been established, the planning begins. There must be a ‘champion’ or someone who will see to it that this circle is formed and that there will be follow through from the planning to the implementation stages. In many instances, this is one of the parents or a caregiver for the individual. As time passes and a circle develops, this role may be taken on by others.
Steps to Creating a Circle
Decide who to invite. (Circle members are not paid to be there, it is voluntary!) The focus person has a great deal of say about who to invite. Create a list of individuals committed to change, who believe in the focus person, and who would be committed for the long haul. Members can be neighbors, family, community members, fellow church goers, or members of clubs. There are no limits, but be selective. Invite those people who are willing to take a chance and avoid the people who are skeptical or unsure of change.
Obtain facilitators. It is best to have at least two facilitators; one to lead discussion and one write down the information and do graphics. Interview them as needed to find one that the focus person is comfortable using.
Decide on a location and time.
Meetings can be held in a home, church, school, library, back yard, conference room, or any big meeting space that is available. The day of the week and the time can vary depending upon the availability of potential members. Potential times can be immediately after work/school, over the dinner hour, or during the weekend. Sometimes Circle members may want to organize a special event and go to a park, go bowling, or have a pizza party! It is always good to include some refreshments for the meeting: make the meeting as simple or as involved as the focus person desires!
Create and mail invitations to all on invitation list with RSVP date.
The invitation can be as simple or as complex as the focus person desires. Some circles have included the reason for the meeting, in a simple and to the point fashion.
Decide on an agenda for meeting with facilitator.
What will be discussed? Do people need to understand a 4 circle of support or to learn more about the individual? There are no real rules about agendas, but it should be discussed ahead of time.
Here is one suggested agenda for an initial circle meeting:
- Introduce all circle members. How long has each person known the focus person and how did they meet? Other questions that help people get to know one another.
- Review the individual’s life as it is now to build a picture and add to existing information.
- Clarify ideas about the future. Review obstacles and opportunities, discuss these directions, and select a priority.
- Record obstacles and opportunities as they arise.
- Make commitments for action.
- Set the next meeting time and place.
According to Judith Snow, listening to the dreams of the focus person is the primary function of the Circle of Support (PUSH, 2001).
On the day of the meeting the focus person, facilitator, and “champion” will want to arrive early to ensure the room is set up for the circle, which means chairs in a circle or semi-circle. This ensures that members of the circle can all see each other during the discussion. This early arrival would also provide time for preparation for the meeting by reviewing any questions that will be asked of the focus person and to be sure that person has had time to think of or generate the answers. (This would be true especially if the person is non-verbal or uses augmentative communication and would need time to prepare answers).
The facilitators would open the meeting and follow the agenda that has been created in a timely manner. Most circle meetings are no longer than 2 hours. At the close of the meeting, members may leave with assignments that would support the circle’s efforts to support the focus person. Examples of what circle members may volunteer to do are: helping someone move into their own home, or helping them to develop more relationships by meeting people in the community, school or other community settings. Progress would be reported on at the next meeting which is always set at the end of each Circle gathering. That way everyone will know when they will be sharing what they learn and it is less cumbersome to plan.
Once the Circle has been created and the first meeting has happened, it will become easier to establish the agendas for future meetings and the number of meetings that will be needed. Some circles may initially meet frequently and then taper off, others only meet quarterly and still others meet only as needed. It is best to maintain a consistent meeting pattern to ensure quality and keep the interest and commitment of the circle members.
A Circle of Support can create many wonderful relationships and opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Real friendships can start and lead to a more fulfilling and rich life. It is never too early or never to late to create a Circle of Support.
References and Bibliography
DiLeo, D., (1996). A family consumer pocket guide to participating in person centered planning, St. Augustine, Fl.: Training Resource Network, Inc.
Holburn, S. & Vietze, P.M., (2002). Person centered planning: research, practice and future direction. Baltimore, MD.: Paul H. Brookes Publishing.
Grossi, T., McCarty, D., Holtz, P., & Todd, J., (2002). My life, my dream. Bloomington, IN.: Indiana Institute on Disability and Community.
O’Brien, J. & O’Brien, C.L. editors, (2002). Implementing person centered planning: Voices of experience. Toronto, Canada: Inclusion Press.
O’Brien, J. & O’Brien, C.L. editors, (1998). A little book about person centered planning. Toronto, Canada: Inclusion Press.
Snow, J. (1994). What’s really worth doing and how to do it.? Toronto, Canada: Inclusion Press.
Nisbet, J. (1992). Natural supports in school, at work, and in the community for people with disabilities, Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.
Mount, B., Beeman, P., & Ducharme, G., (1988). What are we learning about circles of support? Manchester, CT.: Communitas.
Mount, B., & Zwernik, K., (1989). It’s never too early, it’s never too late: A booklet about person centered planning. St Paul MN.: Governor’s Planning Council.
PUSH (Perth and Kinross LTD) (2001). Circles project. Scotland. (PUSH (Perth & Kinross) Ltd. is an organization that helps adults who have learning difficulties lead fuller lives by developing links with others in their local community. Contact information: email firstname.lastname@example.org
Davis, K. (2005). Creating a circle of support. The Reporter,10(2), 3-5.