The Netflix retro sci-fi hit "Stranger Things" brought a lot of wonderful things into our lives — including the phrase "cleidocranial dysplasia."
When I watched the show, I just assumed that Dustin's oft-repeated comeback about his "cleidocranial dysplasia" was a just fancy scientific way of saying "late tooth development" or something.
</div></div></div><p><strong>But turns out, it's actually an incredibly rare congenital disorder that affects one in a million people.</strong> Symptoms can include underdeveloped bones and joints, absent collarbones, shortened limbs, skull deformities, and, yes, dental abnormalities like adult teeth that fail to come in when they're supposed to. </p><p>Which is really all just a fancy scientific way of saying that Dustin is awesome.</p><div><div class="push-wrapper--mobile" data-card="image" data-reactroot=""><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTUwNjc5Mi9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNjY3OTU0M30.51E5_LZGmaQgcJlPxqpTgNJ3k9pD6afxy4YqY_Z1fPA/img.gif?width=980" id="ab5ba" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c5ba03aae2faf763ac852e0628190f0b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"> </div></div><h2>That might seem like a deep-cut from a totally random medical text. But there's a good reason it was mentioned in the show. </h2><p><a href="https://twitter.com/GatenM123" target="_blank">Gaten Matarazzo</a>, who played Dustin on the show, has cleidocranial dysplasia in real life. </p><p>While his is a more mild case — he really is missing some teeth, which makes him speak with a lisp, and he's missing his collar bones, which means he can do some crazy things with his shoulders — that doesn't mean that his life has been easy.</p><h2><strong>The 14-year-old has had to endure several surgeries, and it's also made it harder for him to find work as an actor. </strong></h2><div><div class="push-wrapper--mobile" data-card="image" data-reactroot=""><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTUwNjc5My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMTA1MjU2OH0.Rl3wpav9K09HxeakvSWHaMDOfE_DLtGyG-zePKoRt-w/img.gif?width=980" id="6c245" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b93e43c2d815ebc6761ec00e8f1caa6f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"> </div></div><p><strong>"It was always because of my lisp, and me being shorter and having the teeth issue, that was always the reason they couldn’t cast me,”</strong> he explained in an interview with <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p048p92g" target="_blank">BBC Radio</a>. </p><p>"They couldn’t write in a disability into the show because they had already written the script."</p><p>That made it all-the-more powerful when the Duffer Brothers, who created "Stranger Things," not only cast Matarazzo in the show, but also embraced his condition and made it a part of the character. (Of course, that wasn't the <em>only</em> part of his character that the writers embraced...)</p><div><div class="push-wrapper--mobile" data-card="image" data-reactroot=""><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTUwNjc5NC9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMjc1MDYxNX0.MR90lXUQGI_kyYIjf5bafPeQLRDr4WSkp7x0fl1Q4tA/img.gif?width=980" id="0d5f2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b2628f6d0c359e8caa95e067f003bc20" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"> </div></div><h2>Matarazzo is using his newfound fame to raise awareness about this rare condition too. </h2><p>He's opened up to <a href="http://www.people.com/article/stranger-things-gaten-matarazzo-cleidocranial-dysplasia?xid=rss-topheadlines" target="_blank">People magazine</a> and the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p048p92g" target="_blank">BBC</a>, spreading knowledge about the condition far and wide.</p><p>"I just want to raise awareness for it and let people know that it's not something they should be afraid of showing," he told the British talk show host <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3F5zSdlEfg" target="_blank">Jonathan Ross</a>.</p><p><strong>That sudden limelight has also had a tangible impact on people like Matarazzo</strong>. "It really helps them come out of their shells a little bit. Because a lot of people have it much worse than I do and it affects them much worse than it does me," he told the <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/08/14/stranger-things-star-gaten-matarazzo-on-dustin-tv-s-most-lovable-toothless-geek.html" target="_blank">Daily Beast</a>. <strong>"</strong>Because this was in the show and this is the first time they’ve heard of it outside the doctor’s office, it made them feel really good and it inspired them."</p><div id="c09a7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="KDJIEE1559348933"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="758477859073695746" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">I'm watching Stranger Things, & a boy has cleidocranial dysplasia. I have ectodermal dysplasia. The former toothless are being represented!</div> — Beth Sulsky (@Beth Sulsky)<a href="https://twitter.com/lifeandBeth/statuses/758477859073695746">1469670188.0</a></blockquote></div><h2>Despite the setbacks that he's faced in the past, Matarazzo's success today is a moving reminder that representation for folks with disabilities is important.</h2><p>In addition to "Stranger Things," he's even appeared on Broadway several times, and let me tell you: This 14-year-old kid with missing teeth, and a lisp, can <a href="http://www.theatermania.com/broadway/news/gaten-matarazzo-sings-bring-him-home_78173.html" target="_blank">belt out show tunes</a> like there's no tomorrow.</p><p><strong>There was a time not too long ago when all this would have been impossible. But thanks to people like Gaten Matarazzo, representation is making the world brighter — and fairer — every day.</strong></p>
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