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"The Middle" Actor Has Osteogenesis Imperfecta


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Atticus Shaffer has been playing the amusingly odd Brick on ABC's The Middle since its debut in 2009. There's a lot that's intentionally quirky about the character, but if you've noticed something unusual over the years about the little guy's shoulders or the way he walks, it's not an acting choice but the result of osteogenesis imperfecta. According to a Shriner's newsletter, Atticus has Type IV OI, and his mother has Type I.

Atticus received the RJ Mitte Diversity Award at the 2010 Media Access Awards "for an actor with a physical or emotional disability with limitations that would make an acting career seem implausible." According to a press release from the Writer's Guild of America West, "The Media Access Awards honors individuals and organizations in the entertainment and broadcast industries for their efforts in promoting the awareness of the disability experience, accessibility for people with disabilities, and the accurate depiction of characters with disabilities."

In May of 2011, Atticus appeared on an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition that focused on another boy with the brittle-bone disease and his family. In an excerpt from the show on YouTube, Atticus welcomes nine-year-old Patrick Sharrock to The Middle set, gives him an actor's chair with his name on it, and introduces him to other cast members. Atticus also says of the diagnosis they share, "It's technically called a disability, but I don't see it in any way disabling us. I'm able to do all the things I really want to do, just a little differently and more carefully."

The Hollywood Mom Blog quotes Atticus as saying of OI, "It's a small portion of me and nothing more. I take extra precautions where I step to make sure it's safe. And I shouldn't do anything with heavy lifting or anything that could make me slip and fall." And probably use a stunt double for scenes like the one where Brick gets hit by a beer can.

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