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'Breaking Bad's' RJ Mitte discusses disability in Columbia

University of Missouri students who attended a recent lecture by actor RJ Mitte recently may have expected a lot of talk about “Breaking Bad,” the hit television drama that Mitte starred in. What they got instead was an education about Mitte’s experience growing up with a disability.

As fans know, Mitte played Walter White Jr. on the show, which ran for five seasons and ended in 2013. Like his character, Mitte has cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that can affect body movement, speech, sensation and depth perception.

Mitte’s form of cerebral palsy is relatively mild, but it still profoundly affected his childhood. Today, he uses his fame to bring attention to disability awareness and bullying issues.

During his speech at the Missouri Theatre on Feb. 19, Mitte used humor to make his point that disability should be seen as a strength, not a weakness. He recalled having to wear casts on his legs seven months out of 12 for nearly a decade when he was a kid.

The casts became very hot in the summer, so Mitte got the bright idea to freeze coins and drop them inside for relief. Of course, the coins were stuck in the casts. When doctors removed the casts, there was “$6 worth of change” inside, Mitte said.

He also said that cerebral palsy is a part of his self-identity, and credits the condition for getting cast on “Breaking Bad.”

Many parents of children with cerebral palsy are unable to afford treatments that help improve the condition or help kids adapt to their challenges. They may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to help provide this necessary care.

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