Gaten Matarazzo is not your average teenager. The 14-year-old was launched into fame after being cast in last year’s wildly popular Netflix series “Stranger Things.” He was also born with a rare, one-in-a-million genetic condition, cleidocranial dysplasia, which is also called CCD.
According to the National Institutes of Health, CCD mainly affects bone and teeth development:
Typical facial features include a prominent forehead, wide-set eyes, a flat nose, and a small upper jaw.
It is also common for individuals with the disorder to be born without collarbones and to be short in stature. It doesn’t affect cognitive functioning or intelligence, but individuals with CCD may also develop osteoporosis earlier in life, putting them at risk for bone fractures.Gaten Matarazzo/Instagram
Matarazzo’s case is mild, although, it does require him to get frequent surgeries and his adult teeth have not yet grown in, which affects his speech. He was born without a collarbone, which gives him the flexibility to fold his shoulders and arms inward.
On “Stranger Things,” Matarazzo plays Dustin, a preteen who is bullied for having CCD. According to People magazine, the show creators did not originally plan for Dustin to have these attributes. However, in reality, Matarazzo does have CCD, which inspired the creators to write it into the show.
Early on in the show, Dustin is confronted by two bullies who call him “Toothless.” Dustin told his bullies:
“My teeth are coming in. It’s called cleidocranial dysplasia.”
The bullies then forced Dustin to move his arms in an unusual manner, before laughing at him and walking away.Stranger Things TV/Instagram
Amidst his tremendous success, Matarazzo opened up about his experiences with CCD. He explained to People:
“There’s a one-in-a-million chance that you have of getting it.”
During an interview with the “Jonathan Ross Show,” Materazzo saw an opportunity to bring awareness to the condition:
“I just want to raise awareness for it and let people know that it’s not something they should be afraid of showing.”
Matarazzo also talked to People about the response to him opening up:
“The feedback has been great because it makes me feel good that people … a lot of people shy away from it and they were messaging me saying that you made me feel better about myself that you can show you have this condition on TV and embrace it…and I feel like I’m kind of raising awareness for it.”
Matarazzo refused to let his condition impede his confidence or acting ability. Celebrities such as Lin-Manuel Miranda have expressed their admiration for the teenager:
Your smile is worth a fortune, and yours to spend as you wish. pic.twitter.com/R1DaKm3LSM
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) September 22, 2016
The arrival of season 2 of “Stranger Things” is widely anticipated by fans. It comes out on Netflix on October 27, just in time for Halloween.Gaten Materazzo/Instagram
The bully scene from the first season ends with Dustin’s friend, Lucas, praising his arm trick:
“It’s like superpowers or something.”
As it concerns Gaten Matarazzo, of that we are sure.