Born to Be Different – Part 1 – What is it like for those with disabilities growing up?

by Nathan Crudden

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This year is the tenth anniversary of the award-winning Channel 4 documentary Born to Be Different. The first series showed us six three-year old children, each with different disabilities. The programme delves into the intimate insights into what the experiences are like growing up with a disability, as the children move from primary to secondary school, and from childhood to adolescence.

For some family, huge and difficult decisions must be made, and all of the families must make psychological adjustments that almost all other families never even have to think about. Zoe was born with a condition called arthrogryposis. A plethora of surgeries on her arms and legs have allowed her to move just enough to attend a large academy school where she blossoms and is turned into an enthusiastic netball player.However, at the end of the year, one foot is causing her so much pain that she must have another operation.

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William’s condition, tuberous sclerosis, means he has very complex epilepsy and autism, making him behave erratically and violently. He is very hard to manage and is often aggressive to mother Paula and young sister Jess. Paula also has MS and, with William getting bigger and therefore stronger, she is finding it more and more difficult to cope. She and husband Nick look into a residential school for William, although the thought of him leaving home greatly distresses her.

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Shelbie was born with the condition called Trisomy 9-p, a life-limiting disability that has caused her to be in and out of hospital her whole life. In this series she is rushed to Bristol Children’s Hospital with an unexplained illness affecting her breathing, her life is hanging in the balance.

Hamish was born with achondroplasia, a condition more commonly known as Dwarfism. A decade ago his parents moved to Southern New Zealand, where Hamish has benefited from brilliant skiing opportunities. His new passion however, is swimming. He has been smashing national records in the under-19 national championships. His ultimate goal now is to compete for New Zealand is the next Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Hamish’s new passion is swimming. He’s been breaking national records and winning medals in the under-19 national championships. His ultimate dream is to swim for New Zealand at the next Paralympics in Rio.

Tonight, Channel 4, 9pm. Leave your comments below.