Nathan is 21 and is studying politics and sociology at university. He has spastic quadriplegia and campaigns for disability rights.
This is his story.
My disability means the messages sent to all four of my limbs become confused and do not transmit to the correct places. As a result, I am unable to walk and do basic daily tasks such as going to the toilet or simply putting on a jumper if I get cold.
My mother and father, with the help of the local authority, do their very best to ensure that I am able to live the life I want. My daily routine predominantly depends on whether I am attending university or not. If I am attending university my carer will get me up and dressed and will ensure I am ready to go.
I will then spend the day at university studying which I really enjoy. If I am not at university I will spend the day doing administrative tasks and looking for opportunities to do campaigning for disability rights. This has always been an area of interest to me due to my own disability. During the summers, I look for work experience and other opportunities to help my career progress towards becoming an MP.
Although my care team do an excellent job, I think they would benefit from more respect from society, higher wages and generally better working conditions. Many of my carers help me because they want to see me achieve. But this is used to guilt trip them into working more hours than they should. This can lead to exhaustion and so makes them less inclined to perform at their best and less likely to want to come to work. This then means that I may not get the best out of them as they are too tired to work effectively.
Public understanding has been proven to affect change to many policies by decision-making organisations. By raising greater understanding of the issues that young disabled people face, we can improve their life chances and chances of those who work with them, securing a better future for anyone who may have a disability.
Without these barriers, I would have less of a struggle with care agencies and be able to be more spontaneous and go to more events without first having to think about the impact on my carers and those around me. The benefits to me and my family would be that I would not have to rely on them as much for care and support. At the moment, in the opinion of the local authority, my disability magically disappears on the weekend. Obviously this is not the case and means I have a limited amount of time with carers on the weekend and so have to rely on my family to help me with all tasks normally undertaken by carers.
This is the part of my life that most people simply do not see.
This is the Secret Life of Us.