Hamish, 2013

This award-winning documentary series offers intimate insights into what it's like to grow up with a disability.

In Series 8 (2013) we watched as the children made the tricky transition from childhood to teenage years.


Hamish was born with achondroplasia (commonly known as 'dwarfism'). Ten years ago his parents moved to the South Island of New Zealand, where he has benefitted from an outdoor lifestyle. In Episode 1, Series 8 we see him and father Al on a boys' trip of fishing and swimming in the nearby river. The family reflect on their dreams for Hamish's future. 'It's about Hamish being successful at what he chooses to do, whatever it is. You'd like him to get married, find love in his life. Normal parent things – the same old dreams, happy and healthy,' says mum Claire.


Zoe was born with a condition called arthrogryposis. Over the years a series of operations to her legs and arms have improved her mobility and when she moves to a large academy in Essex she becomes an enthusiastic netball player. Yet by the end of her first year one foot is causing her so much pain that a further operation is necessary. The family takes a short break 'to escape the doctors', as Zoe says. On their return, we see her undergo surgery to reposition her left foot so she will continue to be able to walk and the earlier endless surgeries and procedures have not been in vain.


William's condition, tuberous sclerosis, has led to complex epilepsy and autism. These further conditions cause him to behave violently and erratically. His mother Paula herself has developed MS and, as William gets bigger and stronger, she is finds it increasingly hard to cope. In Episode 1, Series 8 we see the family reunited after William's first week at a residential school over an hour away from home, and how have they all adapted to the change. 'I've been really excited all week because I've missed him,' says younger sister Jess.


Shelbie was born with Trisomy 9-P, a profoundly life-limiting condition which has seen her in and out of hospital all her life. In Episode 1, Series 8, after recovering from a life-threatening illness we see the family enjoying quality time together camping, where Shelbie gets to enjoy her favourite activity, swimming. But a week before they go on holiday mum Vicki receives devastating news about a condition Shelbie may have been carrying from birth, but which has gone undiagnosed. 'I just feel like she's been given a double death sentence,' says Vicki.


Nathan, who has Down Syndrome, has attended a mainstream primary school all his life. In Series 8 mum, Tracey and dad, Richard, make the decision that continuing in a mainstream environment may not be the best approach for secondary school both academically and socially. They decide to send Nathan to Stormont House, a school for children with mild to moderate learning difficulties, where he impresses with his schoolwork and blossoms socially at the afterschool club he attends. 'There's just this confidence about him,' says mum Tracey.


In the last series (7), Emily – who was born with spina bifida – had major surgery to reconstruct her bladder and bowel to allow her to regulate when she goes to the toilet. The surgery was a success and she starts secondary school in knickers rather than the pull-ups she wore for the majority of her primary education. Emily is social and enjoys being just like other kids her age, but does still have hospital check-ups where doctors reflect on how well she is doing.