How One Teacher is Using a New App to Teach “Personal Space”

Using iPads in high school classroom to teach personal space

Putting the Circles App to Use: A Case Study of Cindy Garwood’s Classroom

Cindy Garwood reached out to us a few months ago with questions about the Circles App. She’s a teacher for the Moderate/Severe Program at her high school, had been using the Circles curriculum for a long time. Both Cindy and her students were excited about the app’s release: “I’m so excited to try it out! My boys are totally “in love” with Faith. We are learning the Circle Jumping. It’s so helpful to teach boundaries to my teenage boys!

We were thrilled to hear Cindy’s feedback on the app and she was happy to provide us with some awesome details about her classroom’s experience with the Circles App. Check it out:

Love this App!!! I’ve been waiting for months for it to be released! I have been using the “Circles” curriculum for many years. It’s a great program for teaching social skills, personal safety, and appropriate boundaries. 

This app is the perfect companion to the “Circles” DVD program or to use at home. The graphics are cute and age appropriate for teens. The animated character uses the same dialogue as the DVD program, so it ties in perfectly to each lesson.

I love the simplicity of the app. My students and I are able to create their personal profile in just a few minutes. My kids are are excited to see themselves and family members in the graph! All that’s needed is a few photos of family and friends! 

Support for the app is awesome! I’ve received helpful responses almost immediately and the creators are very open to input as well.     

Fun and Engaging for High School Students

After downloading the app, Cindy gave us some great feedback about how the app works for her teenage students. Some of her best results came from taking photos of her students as well as uploading different pictures to her iPad. Cindy’s students with special needs were so excited to see themselves in the Circles, and she reported that it allowed her students to be more engaged in the activity.

Review of the Circles AppShe found that the students really enjoyed the create-an-icon feature. She told us about Vivy’s experience—Vivy is one of her students with severe cerebral palsy. Cindy reported that Vivy was able to choose and create the icons when they helped her by scrolling through the characters. Cindy said, “She really enjoyed touching the colors to create the hair and skin color. She was laughing so hard. Ihadn’t seen her that happy all week!”

Important Reinforcement of the Circles Curriculum Lessons

Cindy then told us about another special student of hers—Daniel. Cindy shared photos of some of Daniel’s Circles! He has been doing a great job practicing personal space and social boundaries through the Circles App. Daniel had great success in recognizing and naming all of his family members after adding photos of them to his Circles. “Seeing the pictures of his family are very reinforcing for him!” she added. He was also able to add some of his female classmates to the Orange Wave Circle. Cindy added that the app helped reinforce that we wave to—and not touch—the people in our Orange Wave Circle, even if we see them a lot.

Putting the Circles App to Use: A Case Study of Cindy Garwood’s Classroom

As you can see, a simple group photo is a great way to put entire groups of students in a circle!

how one teacher is using a new app to teach social boundariesStudents Share Personal Boundaries With Each Other

Daniel’s classmates were able to talk with him about the Orange Wave Circle and why they would like to share only a wave with him. In this sense, the Circles App strengthened the whole class’s knowledge of these relationship boundaries, and even sparked a discussion about why some students may prefer a wave to a handshake. The Circles App made these often difficult subjects of personal space into something tangible and easy for the students to understand. It also helped students feel more comfortable expressing their boundaries to each other.

If you have any questions about the Circles App or the Circles Curriculum, contact us through our contact form on!

Circles app teaches social boundaries and personal space

Categories: Autism , Developmental Disabilities , Life Skills , Parenting , Sexuality & Sexual Health , Social Skills & Fitting In , Special Education , Transition Skills