We first moved to Brevard County more than forty years ago.  My husband and I joined a small church with a missions outreach.

As a local missions project, the women of the church were going to a nearby town to “pattern” a young boy born with the umbilical chord wrapped around his neck.   This child was one of twins and the family was known in the community as devout Christians.

Because I was pregnant and had a small child myself, I was never able to work into my schedule a time that I could go and help.  But for years I prayed for and wondered what happened to the family.  More than twenty years later, I found out.  I met the twins.

Now they are adult men.  Richard Stimson, executive director and founder of The Special Gathering, a ministry within the mentally challenged community, was the twin born without brain damage.  His brother had been the child who had been patterned.

The method was eventually dropped because there was a great deal of controversy about the results of patterning and procedures involved in patterning.  Professionals believed that patterning only worked because there are such an intensive effort demanded by the patterning process and that no real results were acquires.  However, Stimson says that the family saw significant changes in his brother during the time when people were coming into their home and helping to perform the rituals of crawling and other patterns of activity our brains seem to perform instinctively for us.

The scriptures speak of the need to renew our minds.  I’ve always known that this was a reference to purifying our thought patterns and I still believe that.  However, new educational break throughs have me thinking.

For most of the years scientists have been studying the mind, it has been thought and taught that you cannot rejuvenate brain cells.  Therefore, when you lose brain cells–and the accompanying abilities that are governed by those cells–you can never recover them.  However, recent break throughs in methods and equipment used to study the brain have revealed that this is not true.  There is a new term called the plasticity of the brain.

Pet scan of Alzheimer's Disease

New methods of rejuvenating the brain which are peculiarly like the patterning methods are being developed.  It is being used mainly with recent stroke and Alzheimer’s patients.  Yet, the results are amazing.  Nevertheless, I have heard nothing about using these methods to help the mentally challenged community.  Doesn’t this once again amplify the need for the world to remember and see this cloistered, sub-culture?

Should the Church be in the forefront of inquiring about the effectiveness of these new breakthroughs and their application within the mentally challenged community?  I hope so.  Or will this silent, unseen, unheard minority once again be ignored in another wake of discrimination.  Oh, God I pray this will not be.

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