Three-year-old Maddie Moore, suffers from a rare condition called Pica, that makes her crave everything from the carpets to paint to washing powder, to bugs, stones, plastic and anything else but normal food. Pica has a rare impulsive disorder meaning she has cravings to eat non-food.
It can be potentially life-threatening, with risks ranging from vomiting, constipation and infections to blockages in the gut and intestines, choking and poisoning.
In some cases surgery may be needed to remove objects from an individual’s gut or to repair tissue injuries.
Her mum, 26 year old Catherine Mullins had to quit her job to keep a constant eye on Maddie to make sure she doesn’t choke or eat something that could damage her insides.
Her partner, who is 29 years old also quit his job so they could both watch her.
She said: “If she could, she would eat everything. I’m always worried about what she’ll try to eat next. Everything goes to her mouth.
“Sometimes, I have to put my fingers in her mouth and hook the food out to stop her choking.
“You literally can’t take your eyes off her for a minute so our house never shuts down.”
She noticed Maddie started putting strange objects in her mouth just before she turned one, when she began crawling.
Maddie’s behaviour prompted tests and assessments at her two-year health check and she was diagnosed with Pica in September last year. She also suffers from autism, developmental delay and sensory process disorder, which causes her to bounce, spin and climb at any opportunity. The family live in Bournemouth, Dorset
At night she has to be zipped into a specialist bed to stop her harming herself while her parents and four-year-old sister Lilly sleep.
According to the mum, as she gets older, her interest in normal food has drastically reduced and she only eats foods of a particular colour and texture – like potato waffles, fish fingers and chicken burgers.
Catherine said: “It started with her picking up and eating small items of fluff and paper, any bits she could find from the floor.
“Then her cravings became more and more intense. We can’t have anything on the walls like displays or paintings because she’ll eat them.
“Lilly can’t do any drawing or crafts because Maddie will eat the pencils and paints.
“I literally have to hide anything dangerous. We have child locks but she’s very clever and susses them out.
“Yesterday she ate a whole pack of chalks when I wasn’t looking, but her favourites are Play-Doh, sand and dirt.”
“I can’t go anywhere with her – not even to a cafe or the supermarket,” said Catherine.
“Our flat is so small, there isn’t space to even use the sensory equipment we have been funded which would really help Maddie.
“It’s hard because due to her condition she can’t go outside much either. She needs to be safe because of her complex needs so to have somewhere where she could have the space to play and Lilly could rest too, would be a dream come true.
“Nothing in our life is normal, every aspect is affected and it’s very tough on Lilly too. Every day is a struggle but she’s worth it. Maddie is such a character.
“I feel really lucky because she is so quirky and different. I love her so much.”