Resourceful Claudio Vieira de Oliveira knows more than a thing or two about overcoming adversity.
But despite his physical limitations, Claudio, from Monte Santo, Brazil, has defied doctors’ doubts to become an accountant and inspirational public speaker.
‘Since I was a child I’ve always liked to keep myself busy and work – I don’t like to depend totally on other people,’ he said. ‘I do a bit of accounting, research for clients and consulting.
‘I have learned to turn on the TV, pick up my cell phone, turn on the radio, use the internet, my computer – I do it all by myself.’
Claudio types with a pen held in his mouth, operates phones and a computer mouse with his lips and has specially made shoes that allow him to shuffle around town.
His independence saw him succeeding at school and qualifying as an accountant from the State University of Feira de Santana.
When Claudio was born, doctors told his mother Maria Jose he would not be able to survive.
Maria Jose said: ‘People started saying ‘the baby is going to die’ because he could barely breath when he was born.
‘Some people would say: ‘Don’t feed him, he is already dying’.
‘But there’s only happiness now. Claudio is just like any other person – that’s how he was raised in this house.
‘We never tried to fix him and always wanted him to do the normal things everyone else does.
‘That’s why he is so confident. He is not ashamed of walking around in the street – he sings and he dances.’
At eight years old, Claudio, who had previously been carried everywhere, began to walk on his knees.
WHAT IS ARTHROGRYPOSIS?
Congenital arthrogryposis is a rare condition that causes curved joints in several areas of the body at birth.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not a deformation of the joints themselves, but one of the tissue that surrounds them, thus fusing joints in place.
It is caused by a number of factors, including lack of space in the uterus, muscle abnormalities, nerve abnormalities, blood circulation problems and maternal illness.
The condition is present in about one in every 3,000 babies and is usually detected before birth.
Treatment options include physiotherapy, splinting and surgery.
Claudio’s bed, plugs and lights had to be made lower so that he could do things for himself without asking for help.
He cannot use a wheelchair because of his unusual shape, making it hard for him to be independent outside the home – but he begged his mother to be allowed to go to school and learn with the other children.
Doctors have recently diagnosed him with a rare condition called congenital arthrogryposis.
They believe he has multiple joint contractions in his legs and arms which mean they cannot extend properly.
Claudio said: ‘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.
‘I don’t see things upside-down. This is one of the things I always talk about in my interventions as a public speaker.
‘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 is not the only person with the disease who has refuse to let it overcome his life.
In February, MailOnline told the story of Leanne Beetham who became a celebrated photographer and artist whose paintings of wildlife – which she creates by holding a paintbrush in her mouth – have sold for hundreds of pounds.
Miss Beetham, who has a degree in applied animal behaviour, uses paint and graphite to make her images, which can take more than eight hours to complete at a sitting.
In 2006 one of her paintings was sold for £750 at Christies in London in aid of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation. Her exhibition last year in Hull raised money for the Withernsea RNLI, helping to replace equipment which had been stolen.