The Middle

The Middle/ABC/2009+ (Quirky kid with brittle bones)

Brick Ishmail Heck (Atticus Shaffer), a socially awkward, introverted 9-year-old boy with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (Brittle Bone Disease). He is the youngest child of the Heck family who live in Orson, Indiana, near the City of Greencastle.


Born November 3, 2000, Brick (who is “clinically quirky” according to his teacher) has the habit of repeating the last words of his comments in a secret whisper, as if talking to his stomach. He is also an avid reader, loves the color yellow, and has a special relationship with his backpack (it’s his best friend).

Many of Brick’s quirks are similar to people with high functioning autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. Some more of Brick’s peculiarities and skills include:

  • He makes a whooping sound when he lies.
  • He has an eidetic (photographic) memory and loves three syllable words.
  • His favorite book series is “Planet Nowhere.”
  • About books, Brick said, “But I like books. I like the feel of the paper in my hands.”
  • His favorite food is Doughnut Holes. He also likes lime green jello.
  • He has difficulty finishing tasks/events due to his low interest span.
  • Before going to bed, he says the Pledge of Allegiance 20 times and then rolls up his pajama bottoms because he’s afraid he will trip in his dreams.
  • He fears crossing the covered bridge near his house and will do anything, even escape the family car from driving over the bridge which forces his family to find alternate routes home.

Brick’s family includes his father,  Mike Heck (Neil Flynn), a stoic limestone quarry manager; mother Frances “Frankie” Heck (Patricia Heaton), a frazzled used car saleswoman/dental assistant; and his siblings, Axl Heck (Charlie McDermott),  a popular, unmotivated and rebellious teenager who favors sports but not academics – he prances around the house without a shirt; and Sue Heck (Eden Sher), his dorky teenager sister with braces who seemingly fails at everything she does, but Sue’s sunny state of optimism motivates her to keep trying again and again.

Note: In real life, actor Atticus Shaffer also has “Osteogenesis Imperfecta,” a disease which causes fragile, brittle bones. He limps when he walks.

The actor’s first name was inspired by the character Atticus Finch, the lawyer in the classic novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.

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