Claudio Vieira de Oliveira from Monte Santo, Brazil, was born with congenital arthrogryposis, a rare degenerative disorder that caused his limbs to curve unnaturally – his arms and legs are bent in awkward positions, though he walks on his knees. His head is pulled backwards at an extreme angle.
But for someone whose mother was told by doctors to let him starve to death, de Oliveira, now 37, has been able to lead a full and relatively normal life, all things considered.
“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 told the Daily Mail.
When he was 8, de Oliveira began to walk around using only his knees, and he begged his mother to allow him to attend school with other children.
After succeeding at school, he matriculated at the State University of Feira de Santana and received his qualification as an accountant. (He regularly returns to the school to give motivational speeches.)
Typing with a pen in his mouth, and using a mouse with his lips, de Oliveira can “turn on the TV, pick up my cell phone, turn on the radio, use the Internet, my computer – all by myself.”
“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,” he says. “I don’t see things upside down.”
De Oliveira is profiled as part of Body Bizarre, a new series from TLC that starts Sept. 4.