The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Features

March 23, 2011

Caught in the 'Middle' -- Life imitates art for TV star

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 — TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Atticus Shaffer said he doesn’t have to work too hard to get into character – a 9-year-old who is self-described as “clinically quirky.”

His grandfather, Roy Shaffer, says the fictional Brick Heck on “The Middle,” a sitcom about a somewhat traditional family from Indiana, is quite similar to his grandson.

“He believes he’s pretty close to the Brick character in ‘The Middle,’” Roy Shaffer said. “He says, ‘That’s me.’”

Atticus — named for the lawyer Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird” — co-stars in the ABC TV family comedy, which first aired in 2009.

The show depicts a middle-aged couple raising three typical kids in Orson, Ind., a fictional town that looks to be somewhere in central Indiana.

The notably non-dysfunctional Heck family includes dad Mike (a quarry manager), mom Frankie (a used car saleswoman), and their children — Axl (a slightly rebellious teenager), Sue (a socially awkward early teen), and Brick (a 9-year-old who is “clinically quirky” as his teacher says).

On the show, Brick thinks of his ever-present backpack as his best friend and repeats the last word of his comments with a secret-sounding whisper to himself. In real life, Atticus gets home-schooling from his mom, tutoring on the set of the show, and enjoys pets (dogs, cats, birds, fish and a rabbit) and hobbies such as Scouting, chess and Yu-Gi-Oh tournaments, which he attends with his dad. Atticus is also learning German.

Atticus was born with osteo imperfecta (commonly known as “brittle bone disease”) and has to avoid situations that might lead to bumps or falls. Thus, “you never see him running and playing with a ball” on the show, said Roy Shaffer, a native of Terre Haute.

Though he’s dealt with broken bones, Atticus told the New York Times in 2010 the disease doesn’t define him. “It just adds to my colorful personality,” he quipped.

Text Only
Features
  • dog-sunglasses.jpg Do animals have a sense of humor?

    Right now, in a high-security research lab at Northwestern University's Falk Center for Molecular Therapeutics, scientists are tickling rats. Their goal? To develop a pharmaceutical-grade happiness pill. But their efforts might also produce some of the best evidence yet that humor isn't something experienced exclusively by human beings.

    March 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140317-AMX-DESIGN-FOOD178.jpg Fun and beautiful maps of the world made from signature regional foods

    Food stylist Caitlin Levin and photographer Henry Hargreaves have collaborated on a series of food-based country maps composed of signature national ingredients.

    March 19, 2014 3 Photos

  • AvengerExt.jpg Avenger an American value

    If you’re someone who appreciates the golden age of domestic sedans — those big, comfortable, heavy-feeling cars with a uniquely American sense of style — this one ought to pique your interest.

    March 7, 2014 2 Photos

  • Screen shot 2014-02-27 at 4.27.26 PM.png The glitz, the glamour and the movies: 3 apps for Oscar weekend

    With the Oscars approaching, this is a weekend for movies. Download these apps, then watch a few movies, create your own and settle in for the awards show.

    March 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140218-AMX-DESIGN-HOTEL182.jpg The rise of the hotel bakery

    One of the key trends in hotel design in recent years has been a sharp focus on creating a hotel lobby that is a destination, not just a pass-through.

    February 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • How the U.S. government spends millions to get people to eat more pizza

    WASHINGTON - It all adds up to a lot of calories: On an average day, the report notes, pizza provides 6 percent of the total caloric intake for American children and 4 percent for American adults.

    February 18, 2014

  • Mazda3Int.jpg Redesigned Mazda3 among best new small cars

    Mazda must be dabbling in black magic.
    How else can you explain the fact that this relatively small Japanese company is doing what no one else in the car industry seems to have figured out? They’re building cars that get amazing gas mileage and are exhilarating to drive at the same time.

    February 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • SoulExt.jpg Soul is still stylin’

    Starting under $15,000, the Soul has always pegged its success on buyers who want a trendy, contemporary, eye-catching car without spending a ton of cash. And now that an all-new Soul is out for 2014, it shows that Kia is doubling down on this recipe of combining funky looks and an affordable price.

    February 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 01.jpg US News names its 'Best Cars for the Money'

    WASHINGTON - U.S. News & World Report Wednesday announced its annual Best Cars for the Money list on its Best Cars website.

    February 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • You're doing it wrong: how to make better ramen

    NEW YORK — The finer points of instant ramen preparation may be up for debate, but the noodle cakes and flavor packets bequeathed to the world by Momofuku Ando are un-mess-up-able.

    February 10, 2014

House Ads
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Featured Comment
Twitter Updates
Seasonal Content
Poll

Will you participate in March Madness?

Yes I watch the games and complete a bracket.
Yes I complete a bracket.
No
     View Results