Dad's desperate plea prompts lifetime supply of Tommee Tippee cups for son with autism

For Ben Carter, the beloved little blue cup wasn't just a drinking vessel -- it was a lifeline.

The 14-year-old, who has severe autism, has drunk from the distinctive two-handled cup since he was a toddler. He refuses to sip from anything else even after it resulted in more than one trip to the hospital due to dehydration.

So when Ben's father Marc Carter found the crucial sippy cup was wearing out, he launched a global plea.

"These cups are not made anymore, the replacements are all new and fancy, we've tried them, Ben throws them at us," Carter said in a tweet, shared thousands of times.

"Maybe you have one stuck at the back of a cupboard?" he asked.

Such was his son's reliance on drinking from the cup that he'd twice been admitted to hospital with severe dehydration when without it, Carter said.

"In all honesty we're really worried what will happen if it falls apart completely," said the concerned father from Devon, in the south west of England.

Global reaction

People around the world responded, offering blue sippy cups that looked similar. But unless it was "99.9% identical," Ben would refuse to drink from it explained Carter.

The plea caught the attention of the cup's manufacturer Tommee Tippee. The company said its staff in the US, Australia, France and Hong Kong searched for the cup. It eventually found the original mold design and has offered to produce 500 cups for the teenager.

"Our factory team discovered that the tools to make the original cups were still stored away and, crucially, they were in a usable condition," said the company in a statement on its website.

"We are delighted to confirm that we are able to start production on a run of the original cup, ensuring that Ben has a lifetime supply and that his family won't ever have to worry about finding another cup," it added.

"You've been incredible," said Carter in a video message to all the people who had helped his search.

"We have more cups than we could have dreamt of."