This 'Stranger Things' star is one in a million. So is his genetic disorder.

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.

All GIFs from "Stranger Things."


But turns out, it's actually an incredibly rare congenital disorder that affects one in a million people. 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.

Which is really all just a fancy scientific way of saying that Dustin is awesome.

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.

Gaten Matarazzo, who played Dustin on the show, has cleidocranial dysplasia in real life.

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.

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.

"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,” he explained in an interview with BBC Radio.

"They couldn’t write in a disability into the show because they had already written the script."

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 only part of his character that the writers embraced...)

Matarazzo is using his newfound fame to raise awareness about this rare condition too.

He's opened up to People magazine and the BBC, spreading knowledge about the condition far and wide.

"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 Jonathan Ross.

That sudden limelight has also had a tangible impact on people like Matarazzo. "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 Daily Beast. "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."

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.

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 belt out show tunes like there's no tomorrow.

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.

True
Frito-Lay

Did you know one in five families are unable to provide everyday essentials and food for their children? This summer was also the hungriest on record with one in four children not knowing where their next meal will come from – an increase from one in seven children prior to the pandemic. The effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt around the country and many people struggle to secure basic needs. Unemployment is at an all-time high and an alarming number of families face food insecurity, not only from the increased financial burdens but also because many students and families rely on schools for school meal programs and other daily essentials.

This school year is unlike any other. Frito-Lay knew the critical need to ensure children have enough food and resources to succeed. The company quickly pivoted to expand its partnership with Feed the Children, a leading nonprofit focused on alleviating childhood hunger, to create the "Building the Future Together" program to provide shelf-stable food to supplement more than a quarter-million meals and distribute 500,000 pantry staples, school supplies, snacks, books, hand sanitizer, and personal care items to schools in underserved communities.

Keep Reading Show less
via Tom Ward / Instagram

Artist Tom Ward has used his incredible illustration techniques to give us some new perspective on modern life through popular Disney characters. "Disney characters are so iconic that I thought transporting them to our modern world could help us see it through new eyes," he told The Metro.

Tom says he wanted to bring to life "the times we live in and communicate topical issues in a relatable way."

In Ward's "Alt Disney" series, Prince Charming and Pinocchio have fallen victim to smart phone addiction. Ariel is living in a polluted ocean, and Simba and Baloo have been abused by humans.

Keep Reading Show less
True
Back Market

Between the new normal that is working from home and e-learning for students of all ages, having functional electronic devices is extremely important. But that doesn't mean needing to run out and buy the latest and greatest model. In fact, this cycle of constantly upgrading our devices to keep up with the newest technology is an incredibly dangerous habit.

The amount of e-waste we produce each year is growing at an increasing rate, and the improper treatment and disposal of this waste is harmful to both human health and the planet.

So what's the solution? While no one expects you to stop purchasing new phones, laptops, and other devices, what you can do is consider where you're purchasing them from and how often in order to help improve the planet for future generations.

Keep Reading Show less

It sounds like a ridiculous, sensationalist headline, but it's real. In Cheshire County, New Hampshire, a transsexual, anarchist Satanist has won the GOP nomination for county sheriff. Aria DiMezzo, who refers to herself as a "She-Male" and whose campaign motto was "F*** the Police," ran as a Republican in the primary. Though she ran unopposed on the ballot, according to Fox News, she anticipated that she would lose to a write-in candidate. Instead, 4,211 voters filled in the bubble next to her name, making her the official Republican candidate for county sheriff.

DiMezzo is clear about why she ran—to show how "clueless the average voter is" and to prove that "the system is utterly and hopelessly broken"—stances that her win only serves to reinforce.

In a blog post published on Friday, DiMezzo explained how she had never tried to hide who she was and that anyone could have looked her up to see what she was about, in addition to pointing out that those who are angry with her have no one to blame but themselves:

Keep Reading Show less

Schools often have to walk a fine line when it comes to parental complaints. Diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and preferences for what kids see and hear will always mean that schools can't please everyone all the time, so educators have to discern what's best for the whole, broad spectrum of kids in their care.

Sometimes, what's best is hard to discern. Sometimes it's absolutely not.

Such was the case this week when a parent at a St. Louis elementary school complained in a Facebook group about a book that was read to her 7-year-old. The parent wrote:

"Anyone else check out the read a loud book on Canvas for 2nd grade today? Ron's Big Mission was the book that was read out loud to my 7 year old. I caught this after she watched it bc I was working with my 3rd grader. I have called my daughters school. Parents, we have to preview what we are letting the kids see on there."

Keep Reading Show less