A mum told today how she fears her daughter will die after she became addicted — to eating CARPETS.
Charlotte Cook, four, suffers from autism and an extremely rare disorder called Pica which makes her want to eat fabric items.
She regularly chews on sofas, carpets and cuddly toys to satisfy her bizarre cravings.
Doctors have been unable to treat the disorder and worried mum Nikki claims the family are not getting any support.
Nikki, 42,said: “My biggest worry is that it will get clogged up somewhere and kill her.
“It’s like an addiction. She has to do it.
“The sofas cost £2,700 but Charlotte has ruined them all, along with the scatter cushions.
“She picks the fabric out with her teeth and swallows it.
“She has started chewing the arm of the sofa and her cuddly toys as well – which she needs to have or else she has a massive meltdown.
“She also tries to eat the TV remote and her car seat.
“The problem is she doesn’t realise she is doing it. We feel so alone with this.”
Nikki and husband Alasdair were stunned after Charlotte began eating carpets in the family home when she was just one year old.
Around the same time, the toddler started to show the first signs of autism.
Nikki, from Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire, said: “We always knew that something wasn’t quite right with Charlotte.
“We had a big green rug in the front room and when she was a year old she started eating it.
“I told the health visitor about it and she said to take the rug out of the room.
“We thought that would be the end of it but she gradually started doing it with the carpet in her own room.
“Then she started going into her sister’s room and doing it there. Around October last year, she started with the sofas.”
Experts have struggled to find a solution to the unusual problem, leaving Nikki and Alasdair to fear for the health of their little girl.
One expert suggested removing all fabric items from the house – an option which family can’t afford.
Nikki, who works as a self-employed sports therapist, said: “We have tried all types of things – such as putting cherry powder on the sofa – but they just don’t work.
“We have told her calmly that she can’t do it or she will be sick but that has no effect. We have tried everything.
“She sees an occupational therapist regularly which helps with her sensory needs.
“She came out to the house and saw what Charlotte has done. She advised us to remove all the carpets and fabric sofas.
“I don’t know what the answer is. There is no magic wand.
“All the doctors have told us is that if she gets a high temperature or goes limp to take her straight to A&E. That’s what we are dealing with on a daily basis.
“I can’t begin to explain how much of a worry it is.”
Pica is characterized by an appetite for substances largely non-nutritive, such as ice, clay, chalk, materials, dirt, or sand.
It affects around 30 per cent of children with autism and can cause choking, digestive problems and parasitic infections.
Experts say it can be caused by a mineral or iron deficiency but it is also classed as a mental disorder.
The family are now trying to raise awareness of the condition in the hope of finding a way to help Charlotte.
Nikki, who is also mum to Evelyn, six, added: “Alasdair and I work hard but there is no help out there.
“We can’t afford to replace the sofas or the carpet because there’s no assistance for working parents.
“We want to make people aware of the condition because it is rarely publicised.
“Some people make me feel as if Charlotte is a freak but she is my daughter and I would do anything for her.”