Social Media Comes To Autistic Boy’s Rescue


An effort by thousands of social media users to help an autistic boy has paid off.

14-year-old Ben Carter is described by his father Marc as having “severe autism, he’s non-verbal and has very limited understanding.” Since he was two, Ben has drunk exclusively from a two-handed toddler cup and refused any other vessel, to the point that he was twice hospitalised with dehydration. To make things worse, Ben’s medication is administered via drinks of orange juice.


Although the family replaced the cup once with an identical model, the replacement also began disintegrating – a major problem given the model was long out of production. Marc tweeted his followers to ask if they could track a replacement cup down and the post wound up being retweeted more than 20,000 times.

Manufacturers Tommee Tippee said they no longer had any stock, but also posted requests on Twitter and Facebook. The appeals promoted numerous responses, including people posting spare cups of a similar model (which Ben rejected, instantly spotting it was an “imposter”) and suggestions of 3D printing.

However, not only did the family receive several dozen old cups of the same model but the interest prompted the manufacturers to search factories across the world. Eventually they tracked down an original production mold in China which had not been disposed of as should normally have happened. After confirming it still works and is in a food-safe condition, they have told the family they will produce a lifetime supply of cups for Ben.

It’s still not certain if Ben will accept the replacement, having rejected some of the donated cups that were in relatively good condition. The family now plans to collate the full set of donations, sort them in order of deterioration, start with the one in worst shape, and gradually replace them with ones in better condition in the hope that the adjustment will be subtle enough each time that Ben accepts the change. If that works, the hope is that eventually Ben will come to accept a new cup as “his” meaning the family will never have to worry about running out of cups.

Geeks are Sexy needs YOUR help. Learn more about how YOU can support us here.