Creating Circles of Natural Social Supports: Impact on Adult with Autism Spectrum Disorder’s Quality of Life


Special Education

Date of this version


Document Type



autism, intervention, social support, inclusion


A Circle of Supports is an intervention used to promote social inclusion by establishing levels of social supports for an individual with special needs. This study examined the frequency and maintenance of levels of social relationships in a Circle of Supports created in childhood for an individual with autism spectrum disorder. The male subject was five years old in the initial phase of the research and 22 years old in the follow-up phase. Aligned with an AB design, the researcher conducted a non-experimental retrospective single-subject case study using interviews, observations, and archival data. The implementation of a Circle of Supports increased the levels and number of social relationships in childhood giving the subject access to opportunities for social participation and the development of social skills. Even after the subject exited school, the social relationships that were developed in childhood and the levels of natural supports were maintained while the number of paid supports decreased. Investigation of natural social supports can contribute to the development of effective interventions targeting quality of life for individuals with ASD.

Published in

DADD Online Journal

Citation/Other Information

Stansberry Brusnahan, L. L. (2014). Creating circles of natural social supports: Impact on adult with autism spectrum disorder’s quality of life. DADD Online Journal, 1(1), 166-182. http://daddcec.org/Portals/0/CEC/Autism_Disabilities/Research/Publications/may28_DADD%20Online%20Journal%20V1%202014.pdf