A Scots child born with one arm has released a clip saying “I’m not strange, I’m awesome,” after grown adults called the four-year-old “weird”.
Callum Sweeney, from Glasgow, was born without the limb and is hoping to break the stigma of asking questions around disability.
He made headlines this week after featuring on ITV’s Loose Women show, where he gained plaudits for his approach to his own experience in life so far.
Callum, who lives with his mum, Bianca-Louise Little and her partner John in Dumbreck, was born missing his right upper arm from the elbow.
Bianca-Louise has spoken to Glasgow Live about the struggles she and her son have faced from before Callum was even born.
The Glasgow mum said that when she found out about Callum’s missing limb at their 12 week scan in 2017, they were “taken into a side room and asked if we wanted a termination” by doctors.
“It’s an option that they offer because it’s not expected your child would have that” explained Bianca-Louise. “I definitely don’t regret my decision.
“Callum’s disability doesn’t affect him majorly – it’s different that he was born the way he is, rather than having his arm and losing it. We don’t see him as disabled, but differently-abled, and he finds a way to do everything.
“It’s people who stare at him and make comments.”
Callum hit national headlines this week after a clip of him saying he was “awesome” was shown on ITV’s Loose Woman in an episode which saw the panel discuss the language people use when speaking about people with disabilities.
The heartwarming clip almost brought panelist Judi Love to tears.
“We filmed the video a while ago, because we had loads of stares” said Bianca-Louise. “We were walking to nursery one morning and a grown man in the park called him weird.
“Loads of kids will ask Callum questions about it, like when Callum is playing at the park, they’ll ask things like ‘did a shark eat your arm?” He answers and it goes over their head, it’s explained, they move on.
“It’s more adults that we have to worry about. Once we were in a shopping centre and there was a wee boy who wanted to ask his mum what happened to Callum, but his mum pulled him away and wouldn’t let him.
“Another time we were getting the train, and in Central Station were walking towards the barriers. The guards pulled me aside to tell me that there was a man taking pictures of Callum. He was pulled aside and told to delete them.
“His explanation was that he had never seen a person like that before and wanted to show his partner.”
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Bianca-Louise hopes that in time, people will become more comfortable to talk openly and honestly about disability in appropriate circumstances.
“It shouldn’t be a thing where people are like “why is this person like this?” or “why is he in a wheelchair?”. People should be comfortable to ask questions around a disability. It’s about judging the situation of the person and judging the timing.”
Bianca-Louise and her family said there was “zero support” for the family upon learning about Callum’s disability, and only in their research did they find out about the LimBo Foundation.
An English-based charity, LimBo supports children that have limb differences. As ambassadors for the charity they hold meetups for children but are trying to raise awareness in hospitals and other places.
She says that as time goes on, she hopes that there will be more Scottish-based support for families such as theirs.
“I think if you have kids you should teach them that disabilities and limb differences are a normal everyday thing that should be treated like that rather than treated like a difference. Callum is fully able to do everything.”
You can find LimBo here.