Many of our readers no doubt were fans of the television series “Breaking Bad,” which aired its finale earlier this year. One of the characters on the show, Walt Jr., was a teenager living with a disability that affected his speech and his ability to walk. However, unlike many disabled characters on TV, Walt Jr. was not a villain or a helpless victim. For RJ Mitte, who played Walt Jr., this fact made the role extra attractive for him.
Mitte, 21, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was 3. Cerebral palsy is a condition that can affect movement, muscle tone or posture. Severity can vary from person to person, but those with severe cases may not be able to support themselves through work.
In Mitte’s case, strenuous occupational and physical therapy as a child allows him to walk and run as an adult. In a recent interview, he said that many “Breaking Bad” fans are surprised when they see him walking without the crutches that his character used on the show.
However, he was still the victim of bullies growing up. Besides the usual teasing, Mitte recalls being choked out and having his hand broken. He supports anti-bullying efforts, and encouraged disabled people to defend themselves from this kind of treatment.
In addition, he promotes Shriners Hospitals for Children, where he received his therapy as a child. He recently appeared at a Shriners event to help promote the organization.
As we said above, many people with cerebral palsy are able to live without significant limitations. But others may deal with physical and intellectual disabilities. Those who must stop working, or who cannot work, due to their symptoms may qualify for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits.
Source: Charlotte Observer, “Living with cerebral palsy drivers ‘Breaking Bad’ star’s charity work and Charlotte visit,” Théoden Janes, May 20, 2014