Katie Price makes heart-wrenching decision to put disabled son Harvey, 18, into care
DEVASTATED Katie Price has made the heart-wrenching decision to put disabled son Harvey into care.
The 18-year-old will live in a residential college in a move to teach him how to have a more independent life and learn new skills.
Katie, 42, told The Sun: “It breaks my heart. I don’t want him to think I’m just getting rid of him.”
The TV star has raised disabled Harvey mostly as a single mother.
Admitting it is too painful to think about breaking their incredible bond, Katie said the move gives him the best chance to forge an independent life.
The pair have spent six months visiting colleges for children with autism and learning disabilities. They hope Harvey can start at their top choice later this year.
Mum-of-five Katie said: “It’s so upsetting to think I won’t see him every day but this is the best thing for Harvey and we have to think positively because I don’t want him to think I’m just getting rid of him.
“This is his chance to live an independent life, learn skills and socialise with people other than me.
“I’m trying to get him used to me not being there all the time. But he’ll call on his iPad and say, ‘Mum, I need you’, and I run to him.
“When he’s three hours away it will break my heart because I won’t be able to get there as I’ve got to juggle him with my other kids.
“When he goes to college he will learn to be an adult. He says now, ‘Mummy, I’m not a boy, I’m a man.’
“The other kids are excited for him — they want to see what he can do. But I think they’ll find it hard when he’s not around on weekends.
“I need to learn to let go but it’s tough — anyone in my position knows how hard it is.
“We have an incredible bond. I don’t know how Harvey will react or how he’ll feel when I can’t get to him. It’s too painful to think about.”
Katie, 42, has her heart set on the Northern Star long-term living accommodation in Cheltenham, Gloucs.
Harvey’s autism means loud noises and slamming doors can cause him to lash out unpredictably, headbutting walls and smashing windows.
At 6ft 2in and almost 29st, it is too hard for 5ft 4in Katie to calm or restrain him.
She fears that if Harvey is not accepted — and should he have an outburst in public — the local authority could deem him a risk to himself or others and have him sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
Katie said: “You hear about people with autism being arrested and when they’re restrained they go mad and get sectioned.
“That’s why I want to find the right college for him so if there’s ever a case where he kicks off, I’m involved.
“I met a lady recently who has a son very similar to Harvey with autism. He was sectioned and it took her years to get him out.
“100 per cent that will never happen to my Harv.
“The thing is with Harvey, when you get to know him well enough you know what triggers him, so you can talk him out of it and calm him, and I’m very calm with him.”
At the start of last year, Harvey started at a residential school for five days, returning home at weekends.
He moved back home in March due to the pandemic since his conditions make him extremely high risk.
Harvey shows characteristics of Prader-Willi Syndrome and struggles with his weight. He also has a disorder which makes him partially blind.
But college would allow him to live semi-independently — supported by trained staff and with his own kitchen, bedroom and bathroom.
Katie added: “He will live there until he’s 25 and have his own space to study and keep fit. I need to get him the help he deserves because he will die if he doesn’t exercise.
“I need to get his weight down. We haven’t started training together yet as his breathing has got worse. It’s so bad. But at college he’ll be able to go swimming and work out with trained specialists.
“I’m hoping he will make friends so he can socialise at the weekends, but if he has no plans then he can come home whenever he wants.
“He’s meant to start this September but with lockdown I don’t know if he will.”
When Harvey was born in May 2002, footballer Dwight Yorke denied being the dad until tests proved otherwise.
He has not seen Harvey since his son was four.
In a 2009 interview with Kay Burley, Dwight claimed his absence was due to “a combination of different things, my time schedule and being based up in Manchester”.
Last July Katie hit out at the pundit for failing to get in touch after Harvey was rushed to hospital as his temperature hit 42C and he struggled to breathe.
She blasted: “Whether you want to be in your son’s life or not, you still created him and he’s still your son.
“If you know your son is in intensive care and there’s a chance he could die, as a human being with feelings you should get in contact.”
Today, she says the door is always open for Dwight to get in touch and that she would like Harvey to get to know his step-brother, Dwight’s son.
In fact, she doesn’t even know if Dwight’s son knows he has a brother, but she hopes they watch her BBC show Katie Price: Harvey and Me on January 25 at 8.30pm, which documents her life as her son’s carer.
Katie recently revealed that Harvey’s weight had soared to 29st and he threw tantrums if refused food. Her goal is for Harvey to live independently and possibly get a job.
They will know if his application is successful in March.
Katie then needs to get her local authority to fund his placement — up to £350,000 for full-time care.
She added: “Northern Star is an amazing school. It was so nice to see Harvey smile when he was there and it’s got so much stuff for him.
“It’s important for me to see him doing fun things. Harvey is lucky as I’ve already set up a plus-size clothing firm for him, because he needs income himself.
“I want him to write children’s books in braille because he loves to draw. We’d give a percentage to charity and Harvey can earn money from it.
“I want him to make a song for the NHS. He draws the rainbows so I’ve asked him to do that so he can play it every Thursday when we go outside and clap.
“Harvey is so intelligent. I hope that when people watch the documentary, the trolls see how innocent he is.
“My dream is that Harvey will become an ambassador of children with disabilities.
“It’s so challenging, time-consuming and hard work. I have no help, I’m a carer and a mum. It’s hard for my other children when Harv kicks off — but I still try to spread my time equally between the kids.
“I never want sympathy though we never get credit for what we do as carers. But I wouldn’t change it for anything. I’m so proud of him.”
It hurts to let go
By Sam Carlisle
MY daughter Elvi, 19, is in the same school year as Harvey and we are having to make the same decision about her future.
Like Harvey, Elvi has a rare genetic disorder. She can be an absolute joy, her laugh is infectious and she is incredibly loving.
But when you have to be with your teenager 24 hours a day to make sure they don’t harm themselves or others, it takes its toll. You live in a heightened state of worry.
Harvey and Elvi share obsessive behaviour. Harvey’s obsession is frogs, Elvi’s is listening to music over and over. If she doesn’t get it she can spin into uncontrollable rage.
We are hoping that when Elvi leaves school in July she will attend a residential college that can meet her needs.
It will give the rest of her family a chance to draw breath and Elvi a chance to thrive, like any teenager.
I love my disabled child so much it is not going to be easy to let go.
Edel Harris, of Mencap, said: “The decision to move into a residential college or into supported living is a big one and not one families take lightly.
“Getting the right support can make a huge difference to people with a learning disability. It can help them to learn vital life skills, provides an opportunity to make lifelong friends and provides support so they can achieve their dreams. We wish Harvey and Katie all the best for a smooth transition to his new college.”
Harvey’s journey can be followed on Instagram @official mrharveyprice.
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