Muhammad Yahya is three, and lives in Keighley with his parents and his three big brothers. He was born with spina bifida, hydrocephalus and talipes, and had a shunt inserted as an infant.

This is his story, as told by his dad, Shazad.

“We were told at my wife’s twenty-week scan that our baby would have this condition, and we were advised to terminate the pregnancy, because he was going to be severely disabled. It was all so negative, at each point when we had a scan or an appointment, there was no mention of any positives or any hope. But he was born, and he’s our son and we absolutely love him.”

Muhammad Yahya is a smiley little boy who loves Peppa Pig, his trampoline, and playing outside with his older brothers. “Despite his condition and all the surgery and hospital appointments, he’s got a really cheeky little personality. He keeps us on our toes!” Shazad said. “He’s a blessing, he’s absolutely changed our lives. He’s like a little light in the house, there is always a smile on his face. As parents, we want to give him the best opportunities that we possibly can, just like our other children. We always try to find a way of doing things that allows him to join in. He’s got so much confidence as a result, we encourage him to do his own thing and be himself.”

child playing drums

However, the family face challenges as a result of raising a disabled child. “I think there are significant barriers, for families like us, especially in terms of access to the equipment that he needs. There are charities which can help with funding but I feel we shouldn’t have to do that, the financial pressures of having a disabled child are huge and there are companies who make the equipment that we need for our son, who take advantage of the situation.” Recently, the family had to apply for charitable funding for a specialist buggy for their son, as wheelchair services could only supply a wheelchair or a buggy, and not both.

The family have also had to battle to secure Muhammad Yahya a place in a mainstream education setting. “We felt pressured into special education but we feel that he would thrive much better in mainstream education. We do our best for our son and try to make sure that he can do everything he wants to do. But there are certainly barriers that he faces, that other children don’t, and most people don’t even realise that these barriers exist.”

This is the part of our life that most people simply do not see.

This is the Secret Life of Us.

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