A Place for All

John Barone and The Monarch Institute 
Include Youth with Special Needs

Every community has a growing population of young people with neurological differences. Too often, youth with conditions such as autism, Tourette Syndrome and bipolar disorder find themselves left out of parish religious education and youth ministry programs. In the pages of this book you will find the following:

  • Information about many of the neurological differences that affect young people
  • Tips for educating the entire community about these differences
  • Advice on how to reach out to youth with special needs
  • Practical steps to modify your facilities to meet the needs of youth with neurological differences
  • Training tools for empowering volunteers to work with special needs youth

This book opens a window into the challenging lives of children with neurological differences, the difficulties faced by the adults who work with them, and the shift in philosophy and methodology required for religious education professionals and volunteers to be able honestly to say, “There is a place for all in our community!”

John Barone is the former Director of Training Center and Director of Communications for The Monarch Institute. This is The Monarch Institute’s response to the urgent cry of parents, teachers, administrators, medical professionals and mental health professionals hungry for the skills and knowledge that will empower them to transform the lives of students with special needs. Click Here for an order form.

Here’s what people are saying about “A Place for All”:

“A Place for All is one of those books that has been missing from the world of youth ministry and religious education for far too long. John Barone challenges those of us who work with kids to include ALL of them, not just some of them in our communities of faith. Barone provides important insight into the inclusion of all young peopleeven those who we sometimes find it difficult to includethose with learning differences. The stories Barone offers inspire, and the practical ideas he proposes will be instrumental to anyone wanting to welcome all to the Table of the Lord. If you are a youth minister, pastor, religious educator or a believer in young peopleyou should read this book.”

- Laurie Delgatto, author, editor and ministry consultant

“When you first look at the cover, you might think, ‘doesn’t meet my needs because I don’t teach students with Special Needs.’ As an educator of 19 years, I realized, I’m the one with ‘special needs.’ Each kid brings a new set of strengths and weaknesses...most I know how to effectively address. However, without a doubt, you will always meet a student or two with needs that you don’t instinctively know how to guide. As you read John Barone’s book, his love for kids and teachers provides the backdrop for his approach. Just when you are ready to throw in the towel (or a book :0) ), he gives you useful strategies that actually keep a teacher in the driver's seat...he really gives a road map for both educators in ministry or mainstream...kids with traditional ‘Special Needs’ and those who remind us...we teachers are forever learning.”

- Nadine Petrosewicz, Academic Dean, Saint Michael Middle School

“As a mother of a child with Down Syndrome, I applaud your efforts to make children with special needs included in religious education. How much more appropriate this is for the church where ALL are welcome. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

- Angela, Altoona, PA

“Mr. Barone’s daring, poignant book A Place for All challenges us as educators, professionals, parents, citizens, and spiritual beings to look beyond our traditional ideas about the place and role of the person with special needs within a faith community. Going many, many steps further, he leads on a powerfully empathetic journey of reflection on our core human values as they relate to those among us who may be different. Not content to leave the reader with a fresh perspective, Mr. Barone offers practical, real-world, caring suggestions for those of us who would undertake the task of understanding and teaching people who learn in ways that are outside the mainstream. This wonderful book speaks volumes in just 129 pages, sounding a loud, clear call for us to re-examine what it means to teach someone about faith, and challenging us to use our God-given creativity and flexibility to ensure that religious education is indeed accessible to everyone.”

- Bryant Shaw, Ph.D. Clinical Coordinator, Monarch Diagnostic Clinic, Houston, Texas

“Not long ago, my nine-year old son with autism saw a wall covered with crosses. He said ‘Mommy, look at all the plus signs!’ My heart fell, because I knew he didn’t recognize these as a religious symbol because we had not participated in our faith community for so long. Unfortunately, many people in faith communities, pastors and youth ministers included, seem to feel that a child who has a disability that manifests in behavior can leave their disability at the door. Their disability is often interpreted as a result of poor parenting or lack of reverence. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In his book, Barone doesn’t just characterize the problem, he offers concrete strategies to use when teaching youth with neurological disorders. He also reminds us of what is truly importantthe learning outcome. Punitive, top-down approaches to classroom management and discipline don’t just stress out students (and ultimately, instructors as well), they also undermine learning. His discussion of discipline and discipleship should be a powerful lesson to all of us as he examines how Jesus taught his followers. Families of children with disabilities desperately need the support of their faith communitiesthis book is a valuable resource to help achieve that goal.”

- Leslie Phillips, VP Katy Autism Support Group, Family to Family Network, Disability Leadership Network Training Coordinator

“As a parent of two autistic children, as a theologian with an STL from Fribourg University, and as someone who has taught religious ed classes for more than 20 years, I find this an excellent and indispensable resource. This book begins with powerful biblical imagery which underlines the Christian imperative to include ALL children in our faith, something which often has not been done. Barone understands clearly the importance to the child, to the family and to the Community of including ALL children in faith formation and that it is truly at the very roots of what it means to be Christian. Barone does not leave one alone, then, but gives a precise and well-guided tour of just how to include children with neurological differences into faith formation activities which in turn are meaningful not only to the special needs child, but also to all of the neurotypical children. Classes taught in the way that Barone suggests will be far more meaningful to all of the students than traditional, or typical classroom instruction. This is a must read book for all DRE’s, pastors, youth ministers and truly anyone who works with children, whether those children are diagnosed with neurological differences or not.”

- Carol Race, STL, Eagle Bend, MN