Kids can latch onto certain objects, and sometimes the best thing we can do is just to go along with it and hope nothing happens to the object in question, and to try to stock up on potential replacements. That became a very serious proposition for one father recently, when his son’s favorite cup was about to break, and he knew he needed to find another one ASAP, even though the cups were out of production.
Marc Carter’s 14-year-old son has severe autism, and he’s refused to drink out of any cup but a blue, two-handled Tommee Tippee sippy cup since he was 2 years old. It’s not just a slight preference, either. Marc Carter says his son, Ben, hasn’t drunk at school since he was 5 and will only drink at home, and only from his blue Tommee Tippee sippy cup.
“People say he will drink when he’s thirsty, but two emergency trips to A&E with severe dehydration say otherwise,” Marc Carter said.
The 14-year-old has had to go to the hospital to be treated for dehydration on more than one occasion, just because he really will not drink from anything except that specific cup. But after 12 years, the cup was on its very last legs, and that style of cup is not being made anymore. Ben Carter would not accept any replacements, and his parents had tried everything.
Ben’s parents were desperately worried about what would happen when the cup did fall apart, so Marc went on Twitter to ask if anyone had one of those cups in the back of their cupboards or in a junk drawer somewhere. Several people offered cups. One woman had one in yellow, but Ben would only accept a cup that was blue. Another parent suggested 3D printing copies of the cup, which was a brilliant idea but turned out not to be feasible because the cup is part rubber.
The Tommee Tippee company heard about the search for cups and started trying to help out, first by sharing Carter’s search message, then by donating the time of their social media team to help sort through all the replies from people who wanted to help, vet the cups for acceptability, and gather the cups as they were found by potential donors. Lots of cups were offered, but only a 99.9% match would be acceptable to Ben. Somehow, they still managed to find 40 acceptable cups. That’s pretty amazing, especially since Ben’s parents were desperately hoping to find just one more. They’d made Ben’s original cup last 12 years, so if they found even one more they were sure they could keep this going for quite some time.
But then something really awesome happened! While staff at the offices in the U.S., Australia, France, and Hong Kong were looking around for possible leftover stores of the cup, employees at a production factory reported in that they’d not only found the molds and tools used to make the original cup, but that they were still OK to use for a production run. So on top of the 40 donor cups gathered from the cupboards and drawers of the world, Ben will be getting 500 new cups that match his original one exactly.
This must be such a relief to Ben’s parents, who’ve been holding onto that one worn-out cup for 14 years, just trying to make it last because their son genuinely won’t drink without it. Now Ben has a lifetime supply of his cup, and this is one thing, at least, that his parents will never have to worry about again.