Rachel Horn, a mom from the United Kingdom, has to be creative to get her 5-year-old son Zach Tahir to eat food, but not for reasons you might expect.
The Manchester Evening News reported that Horn has to rip up celery and sprinkle nuts on the carpet in order to get her son to eat them -- and to encourage him to not eat window blinds, thread and wall plaster.
That's because Zach, who has autism, also has a disorder called pica, which is when a person has the urge to eat non-edible items. The pica is thought to be linked to his autism, the Manchester Evening News reported.
"He eats almost anything -- mud and moss, stones, carpet, grow bags, thread, paper, wallpaper and hair," Horn told the Daily Mail. "He loves to climb on his windowsill and eat his black-out blind. He likes to have something to chew on at all times. It is not the taste he likes, but the texture."
Now, Horn is trying to raise money to buy items for Zach's bedroom that would make it safer for him -- like a mattress that doesn't have seams, the Daily Mail reported.
In the United States in particular, hospitalizations for pica have almost doubled over the last decade, increasing by by 93 percent from 964 to 1,862 from 1999 to 2009, according to a report out last year from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
The reason for the near doubling of pica hospitalizations could be attributed to the increased number of children being diagnosed with autism in recent years, MyHealthNewsDaily reported. In fact, 31 percent of pica cases among children in 2009 were in kids with autism.
Last year, ABC News reported on the case of a 3-year-old girl named Natalie Hayhurst, who also has pica and has eaten a light bulb, dirt, rocks, and the "little magnet out of the shower curtain," her mother, Colleen, said.
And earlier this year, the Sun reported on 21-year-old Kerry Trebilcock, who has eaten 100 bars of soap and 4,000 sponges because of pica.