Faculty Member’s Book Wins Gold Medal

Dr. Lawrence Sutton, director of pre-theologian formation at Saint Vincent Seminary, received the Gold Medal in the Illumination Book Awards for his recent book, published by Loyola Press, Teaching Students with Autism in a Catholic Setting. The new book is a comprehensive guide to help equip those working in a Catholic setting with the tools, knowledge, and strategies they need to better understand and effectively respond to children with autism.

The Illumination Book Awards are designed to “shine a light” on the best of Christian belief and personal development books.

“Books have always been powerful tools for helping us understand Scripture and to explore various aspects of faith in a complicated world,” the award website notes. “How does one choose the ‘winners’ from the huge array of new titles released each year? The Illumination Book Awards are designed to “shine a light” on the best of these new titles written and published with a Christian worldview.

“Award categories range from Bible Study and Devotional to family-oriented subjects like Education and Children’s Picture Book. The Illumination Book Awards bring award recipients the credibility and publicity they need to further their book marketing and sales success.”

Dr. Sutton’s book took the Gold Medal in the Education Division of the book awards.

Dr. Sutton is an ordained deacon and a psychologist specializing in developmental disabilities, especially autism spectrum disorders. He is the former manager of the Western Region Office of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Autism Services and is nationally recognized for developing his own methodology for providing religious education to children with special needs.

The guide, he said, will help people working with children with autism to use best practices to manage behavior to enhance their educational experience, to gain insight into how to reduce some of the challenges that these children face, and to identify and cultivate the gifts and strengths these children possess to prepare them for the future.

Grounded in the Catholic principle that every person has dignity and possesses gifts to be shared with the greater community, Teaching Students with Autism in a Catholic Setting will help educators become agents of God’s grace in improving the lives of children with autism, Dr. Sutton notes.

Persons with disabilities also have abilities, he said, and recognizing both abilities and disabilities can help to build relationships with children with special needs, to provide one-on-one customized catechesis using existing resources, inspire teens to volunteer, and can revitalize, educate, and involve the entire parish.
The insights from his years of work in the field, he said, will help readers build an effective faith formation program through the sharing of stories of success and inspiration that affect everyone—pastor, parent, student, teenager, and teacher. Catechizing children with special needs actually nurtures the faith of the entire parish, he added.

Sutton earned a bachelor of arts in psychology from Edinboro State College, a master of education and Ph.D. from the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh, and a post-doctorate certificate from the School of Psychology, Duquesne University. A licensed psychologist in both Pennsylvania and West Virginia, he holds certificates as a school psychologist in Pennsylvania, and in elementary and secondary guidance in Pennsylvania.

His first book, How To Welcome, Include and Catechize Children with Autism and other Developmental Disabilities, a Parish Based Approach, described an effective method for priests, directors of religious education, and parishes to help those with autism and developmental disabilities be fully welcomed into the Church.

The book is available from www.stvincentstore.com for $13.95.