The rare disease that Atticus Shaffer, the middle star, lives with

The hit sitcom The Middle featured an ensemble cast of fun and colorful characters. The Heck family was a crazy bunch, dysfunctional and loving at the same time. But the youngest Heck member, Brick, arguably became the show’s standout. Both nerdy and often at odds with his family members, Atticus Shaffer played the role brilliantly. The young actor gave a flashy performance with biting sarcasm.

Since starring on the show, Shaffer has continued to be involved in the entertainment industry. While he hasn’t been seen much on screen outside of an appearance in Never Have I Ever, Shaffer has ventured into voice acting instead. According to Behind the Voice Actors, Shaffer lent his signature tones to “Harvey Girls Forever!” and “Home For the Holidays” among others. He told The Stuff, “Acting is a very beneficial part of my life as it has shown me a lot of different things and I’ve been able to see a wealth of different areas in this business alone.”

As a professional and showman, Shaffer doesn’t admit he’s living with a rare disease — but he’s never shied away from speaking publicly about it, which has no doubt inspired others. According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, Shaffer has osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease. As a result, the disorder affects the connective tissues in Shaffer’s body, causing his bones to become both brittle and easy to break.

Atticus Shaffer talks about how he’s dealing with his condition

Atticus Shaffer thanks his mother for inspiring him on his path to acting by going the distance to ensure his disorder never held him back. When he was born, doctors told her he would likely use a wheelchair for the rest of his life. But Shaffer’s mother was determined not to let her son end up in a wheelchair. In an April 2015 interview with, Shaffer said, “If it weren’t for my mom, I wouldn’t be standing here, actually not standing here. That’s the cool thing about my mom. She was there for me and never wanted me to feel any different.”

But Shaffer has still faced his challenges with the disorder. For one, he suffered multiple fractures in his legs and back. As a result, the actor had to undergo several surgeries. In an interview with PureFlix in January 2019, Shaffer opened up about the painful experience. “I know pain. I’ve had many fractures in my life… I’ve had plates, screws, rods put through all my legs, my back is in an S curve because of it.” He says the condition has helped him find his faith and even baptize himself to let.

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Though prone to fractures, Shaffer doesn’t think his condition has affected his acting career. In an interview with The Stuff, Shaffer said he just had to be extra careful on set. “I’m still very productive. That doesn’t hinder me in any way. It’s part of me, but it’s not me.”

Atticus Shaffer wants to inspire others

Atticus Shaffer believes he is in the perfect position to both clear up his disorder and help others who are feeling alone. As a celebrity and actor, Shaffer wants to encourage others to pursue their dreams and passions, no matter what challenges they may face. In an interview with Parade, Shaffer said, “My message to people with or without illness is that you can still do whatever you put your mind to. You just have to do it a little differently than other people.”

Additionally, Shaffer doesn’t want to be remembered just because he has osteogenesis imperfecta. In an interview with The Stuff, Shaffer said the disorder was just a small part of his life. “My condition is just a small part of me and it’s the same as hair color, eye color, whatever,” he said, adding, “That’s what my mom instilled in me since I was a kid — ‘Be yourself, you are exactly how you should be. You just have something that makes you unique and different.'”

Because of this, Shaffer believes his “The Middle” character Brick can inspire us all. The character is a little nerdy, a little weird, and a little odd, but like the other Heck kids, Brick is confident and proud of who he is. Shaffer told Parade, “That’s what I really love about Brick. He’s different, but he loves being different… I think he’s a good role model.”