Special Education’s Most Popular Video Series Just Got a Makeover – See What’s New

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January 02, 2024


Circles Intimacy & Relationships: Level 1 – New and Improved

You asked, and we listened! The Circles Intimacy & Relationships: Level 1 curriculum has been totally updated. Featuring the same proven-effective paradigm as before, Circles Level 1 has been completely remade to teach students social boundaries through the most up-to-date examples of typical relationships. With all new videos, contemporary scenarios, a segment on internet safety, and an optional digital component (Circles Social Skills Utility™) the all-new Circles Level 1 is more engaging and relatable to students than ever before.

Circles was first introduced on a wide-scale basis in 1983 and has since been the standard in teaching social/sexual concepts to students in special education. Over 10,000 facilities across the US & Canada trust Circles to teach their students how to recognize social boundaries for abuse prevention.

The Circles: Intimacy Training curriculum, developed by the James Stanfield Company, is a powerful tool for providing students a context for practicing trained social skills. Nebulous concepts such as social boundaries and appropriate physical proximity have been broken into concrete domains with associated discrete behavioral responses for touching, talking, and trusting. The content has become an essential component in my practice when teaching social skills to clients with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

– Jim Para-Cremer, MA, BCBA, LBA

What is Circles®?

Circles is an invaluable curriculum that teaches students to discern different relationships in their lives and recognize the level of intimacy appropriate for each type.

In a 2015 study, researchers at Harvard University found Circles “effective in increasing knowledge of social safety and appropriate vs inappropriate behaviors for children with developmental disabilities.”

The extremely abstract concepts of social boundaries and levels of intimacy are presented in a very simple, concrete manner through the use of 7 color-coded, concentric circles. Starting from the center circle which represents the self, each circle signifies a new level of intimacy (or closeness)- with appropriate corresponding Touch, Talk, and Trust based on the distance from the center (self). Students learn about the various types of relationships in their lives and the corresponding type of appropriate interactions. For example, It’s OK to hug your mom, but it’s not OK to hug the mail carrier.

Learning is achieved visually through the use of VideoModeling™, which teaches students social and relationship boundaries as well as relationship-specific social skills in an engaging, interactive format. With almost two hours of video vignettes, Circles will clearly show your students how relationships can be formed and maintained according to current social norms. Circles Level 1 lays the foundation for Circles Level 2, which focuses on the more subtle aspects of social boundaries and relationship building.

Very positive experience. The simple, straightforward, and visual format of the Circles program helped my students have a thorough understanding of boundaries.

– Kristen Dickerson, Counselor in Montpelier, VT

Who is Circles For?

Circles can be used to teach social boundaries and relationship-specific behaviors to a variety of students. This program incorporates cutting-edge techniques to benefit students with learning disabilities, mild-to-severe levels of intellectual disability, emotional handicaps, sensory impairments, affective disorders, mental health issues, or those on the autism spectrum. The social-sexual concepts covered in Circles are most applicable for teens through adults; however, younger students can also benefit from these concepts with proper guidance from their instructor.

My high school students with moderate intellectual disabilities are loving Circles – and it is so necessary for them! We love it!

– Rebecca Smith-Hill

Why Circles?

Organizing social connections based on a person’s objective “closeness” is something that comes naturally to most. We categorize individuals and, based on previous interactions or connections, we decide how to act towards them:

How do we talk to someone and what do we talk about?
How much can we trust them?
What type of touch is appropriate with them and how much?

Unspoken rules and social cues help many of us answer these. However, children on the autism spectrum, children with intellectual or developmental disabilities, and children with affective disorders have greater difficulties understanding these appropriate social boundaries, and how to categorize their relationships. This difficulty inhibits children from creating healthy social relationships.

Unfortunately, lacking an understanding of appropriate social boundaries also makes these students more vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse and exploitation.

That’s where Circles® comes in.

Authors Marklyn Champagne and Leslie Walker-Hirsch developed Circles to provide these students with the tools to organize relationships and determine what levels of touch, talk, and trust are appropriate. By emphasizing these distinctions, students are better able to protect themselves from exploitative relationships and can promote positive interactions that keep themselves and others more comfortable.

What’s New?

The New Edition of Circles Level 1 includes many important changes and/or additions to various aspects of the program:

  1. Current Cultural Trends and a more Diverse cast are better represented in this recently revised, updated, and filmed edition.
  2. Safe Touch is promoted through the use of more in-depth descriptions of each type of social interaction.
  3. Consensus and the Right to Refuse Touch (even from those close to you) are emphasized throughout the program.
  4. A New Circle has been added to provide a clearer distinction between the types of strangers that students may encounter: Community Helpers & Health Workers are in the Red Stranger Circle, while Total Strangers whom students have no business with are in the very distant Red Total Stranger Space. A New Giant Wall Graph incorporates this new circle with the latest design.
  1. A Cyber Safety & Social Media segment has been included to address the growing concerns of internet safety.
  2. An Updated Teacher’s Guide enhances the curriculum with step-by-step instructions for implementing the curriculum and reinforcing the presented concepts.
  3. Discussion Questions, which can be used as Pre- and Post-tests, have been added to help teachers better assess their students’ needs.
  4. Two New Vignettes have been added to illustrate relationships between students of similar ages who are Not close friends.
  5. Digital Component: The new edition perfectly aligns with the Circles Social Skills Utility™ app, enabling students to practice key Circles concepts on their devices at home or on campus.

… And more!

Circles is Fun & Easy to Teach

Circles is engaging for both teachers and students. With high-interest, low-complexity lessons you’ll easily maintain student interest and be able to effectively teach these important concepts. Additionally, Circles is extremely user-friendly. The curriculum’s design enables both teachers and non-teachers (e.g., parents or other caregivers) to easily present the material without any special training.

What’s Included:

  • 107 Minutes of highly engaging video content on 4 DVDs
  • 1 Comprehensive teacher guide with step-by-step instructions for implementation as well as suggested discussion topics & activities to emphasize Circles concepts
  • 1 Giant Wall Graph
  • Over 50 Wall Graph Icons
  • 1 Graph Pad with 50 individual sheets for students to personalize
  • Peel n’ Stick icons for personal graphs

Visit our Circles page here to get your copy of the new Circles Intimacy & Relationships: Level 1 today.

If you’re still not sure about Circles, send us an email to maindesk@stanfield.com or call us at 1.800.421.6534 to learn about how you can preview the curriculum in its entirety at no cost.

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a passionate special education teacher with [number] years of experience, uses her classroom knowledge to craft engaging stories that celebrate the unique strengths of all learners.