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Terri Mauro

"The Middle" Actor Has Osteogenesis Imperfecta

By May 17, 2010

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I was talking to a friend about Brock Waidmann, the boy with spina bifida I mentioned earlier today for his upcoming roll as a child with a disability in NBC's The Paul Reiser Show, and she mentioned another young actor whose disability I had somehow never heard about -- Atticus Shaffer, who plays the amusingly odd Brick on ABC's The Middle. If you've noticed something unusual 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, 11-year-old Atticus has Type IV OI, and his mother has Type I.

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.

For more on TV actors and TV characters with special needs, read "Special Needs TV."

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

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May 18, 2010 at 2:24 am
(1) Leah says:

THANK YOU!!!! First of all, it’s our favorite show (followed closely by “Modern Family”!) Just last week my husband and I were talking about the way he carries himself. I have a friend who’s family has OI (her mom and sister both have OI type IV) and his facial features along with his “no neck” body carriage reminded me of my friend’s family members, but OI never occurred to me. So, thanks for clearing that up! And, I have to say, he does a spectacular job of playing Brick! All the kids really play their roles well on that show.

June 3, 2010 at 12:22 am
(2) Sheemika says:

I was just watching the show and just said to myself, he looks like he has OI. I myself have it and just the way he looked and walked it just like me.

July 25, 2010 at 10:52 pm
(3) lesli reano says:

I need to see the show my sister send me a news paper clipping on your son. great job I have been trying to get two of my kids into acting they both have oi 1 and are 16 and 13 and have both broken over 50 bones. My youngest want to act but she is in and out of wheel chairs my son looks young but we just cant seem to get in > do you have any sugestions? did you make it to the OI convention this year?

May 13, 2011 at 2:13 pm
(4) Natalie Cinman says:

Absolutely amazing. I think Atticus’ character on the middle is great because the show does not portray him as a disabled child, he is just a disabled actor. One has nothing to do with the other. I commend ABC and their writers.
I myself have type 3 OI and am an active 28 year old women. I work in Human Resources and am married to a wonderful able bodied man who sees me for me. In addition I am so fortunate to have been treated that the Montreal Shriners hospital and am the spokesperson for them. I have a full life and like Atticus, having OI is only a part of who I am, it does not define me.
Great article!

January 9, 2013 at 10:28 am
(5) Samantha says:

Wow…I’ve never heard of OI. I was curious to find out if “Brick” had a genetice disorder because his facial features are strikingly similar to my 8 yr old son who has “Di George Syndrome” (also known as 22q11.2 deletion). There are so many disabilities out there that are unknown to most of us but it’s great to see how these children can be so strong. They are inspirational!

May 8, 2013 at 11:15 pm
(6) courtney brown says:

I work with children who are differently abled, and my mother has cerebral palsy. I am so glad to see ABC once again dislaying disabilityies in a positive light. I am overjoyed that he is employed and doing a darn good job. Keep up the good work “Brick”.

June 11, 2013 at 6:06 am
(7) Antoinette says:

Love the show. . My son has type 3 OI and he’s full of life. Keep up the good work Brick

January 3, 2014 at 2:27 am
(8) Melie Rietveldt says:

Hi, I watch The Middle every week, and I like most of the actors, but Axl ‘s roll is sometimes difficult to watch, and I think I might stop watching it, because it becomes irritating. The things he does and gets away with it, troubles me. I believe he is a good actor, also goodlooking but the way they write his roll, can be not so good for him at the end. There is nothing about Axl that I like about his character.
I hope there will be a change pretty soon.

January 13, 2014 at 1:37 am
(9) Razr says:

I think Brick is so funny and it just would not be a show without him. Keep up the show guys and do not change out any of the original actors out and replace them with others EVER!!!

January 15, 2014 at 8:55 pm
(10) Lisa says:

All of the actors are very talented! I really like each of the characters for who they are individually and in the mix of the entire family. It is really a heart-warming and subtly heart-tugging show that I look forward to each week. It is nice to watch a show without violence and constant sexual innuendos as the pouring off the screen. Sincerely, this half hour is the only television that I watch…very creative, comfortable, and just a fun, relaxing time.

January 29, 2014 at 7:03 pm
(11) melinda says:

Bricks a cutie-pie….The Middle is one of my very favorite shows.

February 22, 2014 at 12:30 pm
(12) Dianne Smith says:

I love BRICK !!! He is so cute and so funny !!! I watch the show every week and love it !!! The whole cast is great …….so real…….it is just like our house !!! The way Brick whispers and lowers his head at the end of a sentence has always cracked me up !!!! Love the show and the cast………..I loved FRANKIE when she was Debra on another one of my favorite sitcoms……..thanks to ALL of you for making me laugh !!! I work and hospice and I NEED to laugh Sometimes. Your show is like therapy for me !!! Keep up the good work!! And Sue, I can so relate to your character too. You are great!!!!

March 18, 2014 at 8:14 pm
(13) Mo says:

I started watching the show because it is set in my home state Indiana. It definitely is a fun show. Brick always interested me, and until I read this, I didn’t realize he had a disability. It was his lower voice that caught my attention. I supposed he was playing a child with Aspergers but it wasn’t anything I really thought that much about. Sue is something else. I love her sweet nature and how she never gives up.

March 18, 2014 at 8:54 pm
(14) sherrie johnson says:

I have just recently started watching the middle ,love the show.i noticed that atticus looked like he might have osteogenesis imperfecta,only because my husband had it and couldnt walk without a crutch do to balance.atticus is a great actor i love that he doesnt let it stop him from what he obviously loves and is good at.He is a brilliant actor and i really love the show it makes me laugh.

March 27, 2014 at 12:30 am
(15) Jim says:

The Middle is a great show and young Atticus Shaffer is a quality addition to the show. In fact, every one of the actors is able to bring joy and talent to their character. The reason this show works and is the only prime time television show I look for each week, is because it has heart. These characters are believable. And knowing the physical challenges Atticus Shaffer deals with makes his role as he quirky, loveable Brick all the better. And in the most recent episode on March 26, 2014, when Sue found a prom date I wanted to cheer for her joy. The perpetual hard worker who stares down every disappointment finally had her moment in the sun. As I said, this show has heart.

April 20, 2014 at 5:05 pm
(16) Janie says:

I join the many viewers who enjoy “The Middle”, but I also agree with those who have criticism of Axl’s character at times. First, he really needs to wear a shirt more often. Also, his attitude is a bit too rude very often, especially towards his parents.

In general, however, I enjoy the show – Sue is an especially gifted character actress.


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