You may know Atticus Shaffer from his voiceover in the movie Frankenweenie or one of several small roles on shows like Days of Our Lives, My Name is Earl, or from a scene with Will Smith in the movie Hancock. Shaffer is perhaps best known, however for his role as Brick in the sitcom The Middle- in which he plays the youngest child in a middle-class family. Brick is extremely intelligent and always seems to have his nose in a book, but isn't without quirks, which includes repeating words in a whisper to help cope with his awkward social skills. In his actual life, Shaffer lives with a disability called Osteogenesis Imperfecta.
Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) is a genetic disorder which causes poor collagen production in bones. The result is a skeleton being prone to easy fracture amongst other symptoms like loose joints, weakness, and possibly- short stature. While there are eight different types of OI, Shaffer was diagnosed with Type 4. The OI Foundation characterizes this specific type of the disorder as “moderate.” Other characteristics include:
- A range in severity from relatively few fractures, as in OI Type 1, to a more severe form resembling OI Type 3
- A lack of frequent fractures until one begins walking
- Moderate-to-severe growth retardation, a factor that distinguishes sufferers clinically from people with Type
- Less than average height
- Long Bone Fractures, Vertebral Compression Fractures, Scoliosis, and Ligamentous Laxity may also be present
Because many people with OI are short-statured, they are sometimes mistaken as younger than they actually are. In fact, Shaffer’s character on The Middle is three years younger than the actor.
Born in 1998, Shaffer has already achieved a level of success that most actors only dream of, but he doesn’t let it go to his head. In fact, he credits his condition for much of his success and insists that it's part of what gives him the drive to keep pushing to accomplish more. In an interview on Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Shaffer met another boy with OI and he discussed his views on the word "disability". "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."
Click on the link, below to watch an interview with Shaffer when he appeared on ABC’s The View.
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