Tommee Tippee Manufacture 500 Sippy Cups Especially For Teen With Autism
Ben Carter will only drink from a specific blue Tommee Tippee cup, but the particular style went out of production twenty years ago, so Dad Marc looked to social media for help.
To most people, it's just an everyday child's sippy cup, but for 14-year-old Ben Carter from Devon in the UK, it is the only cup. Ben, who has autism, has used the cup for almost his entire life and when it came time for his dad Marc to find a replacement he found that the original makers had stopped producing that particular style. In desperation, Marc turned to social media and when the story got picked up by media outlets around the world Ben wound up with a few more sippy cups than he could have hoped for.
In an interview with a Canadian radio station the delighted dad explained why the cup is so important to Ben:
"It's the only cup he's used since the age of two. Ben is severely autistic and he has severe learning disabilities. He is non-verbal and non-communicative; he doesn't understand he can use another cup. It is very debilitating. Ben doesn't drink unless he eats and he doesn't eat unless he wants to. He doesn't eat outside the home. That means he doesn't even eat at school when he leaves home at 8:15 in the morning and gets home at 4:45 at night - in that time he doesn't have a single thing to eat or drink."
Marc said that Ben suffered a bout of tonsillitis a few years ago which resulted in hospitalisation:
"He had a sore throat so he didn't want to eat, therefore he didn't want to drink. He went for five straight days, 120 hours without fluids. We were in constant contact with medical professionals. In the end they said bring him in and we took him to hospital. They were going to put him under so they could put a line in because they had to completely knock him out for it. At that point he grabbed the cup and took a sip but that's the only time we've known in his life where he's actually had a drink without food."
When Ben's cup had become unusable, he took to his Twitter account, a social media outlet that he says he never really used that much:
"I had about 30 followers at that time...I put a couple of tweets up and I found the National Autistic site in England and found out who their celebrity supporters were and sent them tweets asking them to share the message. And a couple of them did. Then I got a phone call from the BBC. About an hour later my brother called me and said why are you the number one news item in the UK? I think people wanted some good news for a change. Everyone was saying contact Tommee Tippee and everyone was tweeting them about making more cups."
The Tommee Tippee company stepped in, even though they no longer had the moulds for Ben's cup they offered to manage all of Marc's social media as at one stage the Devon dad was getting up to fifty tweets a minute:
"I couldn't possibly read them and check everything. Ben's older brother and younger sister also have special needs. I'm a full time caregiver so I'm quite busy."
Luckily, after a search of their warehouses in China, the company found the mould for Ben's cup and kindly offered to make 500 cups for the teen. Marc has been very moved by the company's response and has penned a thank you letter to everyone that offered help and support:
"Thank you to everyone for trying so hard to help my little man – it has genuinely moved me to tears – it is incredible that you all want to help. I just sent out a few ickle tweets for my little man, no idea this stuff happened to boring people."
We love a story with a happy ending! If you have a cup you would like to give Ben you can contact Marc Carter via Twitter @PMPProject.
Does your child have a toy or something else they won't be parted from? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.