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Mum Fears Autistic Daughter Could Starve Because Tesco Is Discontinuing Alphabet Potato Shapes

Five-year-old Ruby Passey suffers from autism and is incredibly selective when it comes to her food.

She’s not being a brat or fussy – it’s a part of her condition which makes her reluctant to change. Unfortunately for Ruby, and her mum Nicola, Tesco is getting rid of the only thing she eats.

The youngster only eats Tesco-brand Potato Alphabet Crispy Letters and would rather starve than have something else.

Nicola first noticed the supermarket’s decision about three weeks ago when she tried to order the product online.

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Credit: Mikey Jones/Mercury Press

She says: “There has been no warning in stores, online or on any social media and we only found out when we were doing our weekly shop online to read ‘This product is no longer available’. So we popped to our local store to find they had none but there wasn’t any signs to say they had gone.”

“I was given an apology and told the product had been discontinued with no intentions of them being reintroduced. They couldn’t tell me why but said maybe if they got enough interest in to the product, Tesco may decide to reintroduce them at some point.”

The 31-year-old has since launched a petition to help gather enough support to try and get Tesco to change its mind.

Nicola insists this is a serious issue to her family as Ruby has grown ‘anxious, sad and scared’ since learning her favourite and only food is running out.

“My friend managed to get us a few bags but soon they will be gone. The day I bought her dinner out she was anxious but as soon as she looked at the plate her face lit up so bright and she ate the lot without questions but she still has the fear in her and she’s right to because I know once they are gone, they are gone.”

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Credit: Mikey Jones/Mercury Press

This type of issue with food is common with other people with autism.

Doctor Elizabeth Shea is a clinical psychologist and has worked with many children with eating difficulties.

On the Autism Network site, she says: “I first encountered the typical style of eating in autism when I was a residential care worker for young people with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC).

“It was my job most evenings to cook dinner and I soon learnt that some of them had very particular preferences, including rejecting food that was the wrong brand or in different packaging.”

Dr Shea says people with ASC have very different sensory experiences with food. This means they perceive the taste, smell, look and feel of food differently to ordinary people.

This again relates back to how some people with ASC are resistant or even scared of change.

Dr Shea recommends introducing relaxation strategies for people who become anxious or refuse to eat new food. But she says this type of intervention is usually suited for more ‘cognitively able children’.

Until young Ruby gets to that age, she and mum Nicola are desperately hoping Tesco will reintroduce the alphabet potato shapes.

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