A Brazilian man born with several severe disabilities, including an upside-down head and limited use of his arms and legs, has beaten the odds to become an inspirational public speaker, the Daily Mirror reported.
As a newborn, doctors told Claudio Vieira de Oliveira’s mother to stop feeding him because he would not be able to survive, the report said.
“People started saying, ‘the baby is going to die’ because he could barely breathe when he was born,’” Maria Jose, Claudio’s mother told the Mirror.
Instead, the family made adjustments to their home so Claudio, now 37, could maneuver around without getting hurt.
"We never tried to fix him and always wanted him to do the normal things everyone else does,"
- Maria Jose
Recently, doctors diagnosed him with congenital arthrogryposis -- a condition where a person is born with contractures – or joints permanently fixed in a bent or straightened position. Claudio’s doctors believe he has multiple joint contractures in his legs and arms preventing them from extending properly. The condition is thought to be associated with decreased movement or limited space in utero, connective tissue disorders, or maternal illness, sometimes occurring as part of genetic syndrome, according to the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center.
Claudio began walking on his knees at age 8, and despite not being able to use a wheelchair because of his shape, begged his mother to attend school with other children, the Mirror reported.
"We never tried to fix him and always wanted him to do the normal things everyone else does," Maria Jose told the Mirror.
Claudio uses a pen held in his mouth to type, and learned to use phones and a computer mouse that enabled him to succeed in school. He attended State University of Feira de Santana and is now also an accountant in addition to being a public speaker.
"Throughout my life I was able to adapt my body to the world. Right Now, I don’t see myself as being different. I am a normal person," Claudio told the Mirror.
"Nowadays it's much easier to deal with the public, I’m not afraid of it anymore and I can say that I am a professional, international public speaker and that I receive invitations from all over the world," he added.