Katie Price is putting her son Harvey into full-time care.
The television personality, 42, said she has made the ‘heartbreaking’ decision to send her eldest child, 18, who suffers with a number of health conditions, to a residential college.
Katie said Harvey will live there until he’s 25 and believes the move is vital for his well-being as, at 6ft2ins and 29 stone, she can no longer restrain him if he has a mood swing and fears he could be sectioned if she doesn’t act now.
‘I need to get him the help he deserves’: Katie Price is putting her 18-year-old son Harvey into full-time care (pictured last year) as she believes the move is ‘vital for his well-being’
Harvey, whose father is footballer Dwight Yorke, was born with septo-optic dysplasia- a condition that means the development of his optic nerve was unpredictable.
The teenager is also on the autistic spectrum, is partially blind, gains weight easily because he suffers from Prader–Willi syndrome, and finds mobility difficult.
Katie told The Sun: ‘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.’
Full-time care: The star, 42, says she’s made the ‘heartbreaking’ decision to send her eldest child- who has a number of health conditions, to a residential college (pictured in November)
The former model said Harvey’s new chapter will bring him the opportunity to have as much as an independent life as he can and learn new skills.
Katie has spent six months visiting colleges for children with autism and learning disabilities in order to find the best place for Harvey, and is hoping he’ll be able to start at their top choice later this year.
But Katie is finding it hard to ‘let go’ as she has an ‘incredible bond’ with her eldest son.
‘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,’ she said.
Disability: Harvey, whose father is footballer Dwight Yorke, was born with septo-optic dysplasia- a condition that means the development of his optic nerve was unpredictable
The My Crazy Life star – who is also mother to Junior, 15, and Princess, 13, whom she has with her ex-husband Peter Andre, and Jett, seven, and Bunny, six, added: ‘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.’
Harvey’s autism means he can have violent outbursts, such as head butting walls and smashing iPads, if he hears loud noises or slamming doors.
And Katie said she made the decision to place Harvey in full-time care for fear of him being sectioned under the Mental Health Act if he lashed out in public and was deemed a risk to society.
The star added Harvey’s weight means she can no longer calm him down on her own.
Katie explained Harvey is excited about the prospect of going into full-time care, after previously going to a residential college five days a week.
Family: Katie said her other four children; Junior, 15, Princess, 13, Jett, seven, and Bunny, six, will miss Harvey at the weekends (pictured last year)
Katie added her four other children will miss Harvey when he is not around at weekends.
The teenager is supposed to start at his residential college in September, but Katie isn’t sure if he will amid the ongoing global health crisis.
Katie said the main focus is to bring Harvey’s weight down, saying she needs ‘to get him the help he deserves because he will die if he doesn’t exercise’.
Heartbreaking: Harvey’s father, retired footballer Dwight Yorke is absent from his son’s life (Katie pictured with Dwight in 2001)
WHAT IS PRADER-WILLI SYNDROME?
Prader-Willi syndrome is a rare genetic condition that causes problems including constant urges to eat food, restricted growth and reduced muscle tone.
Other potential issues include learning difficulties, lack of sexual development and behavioral problems such as tantrums or stubbornness.
The rare condition, which affects one in every 15,000 children born in England, is caused by a defect on chromosome number 15 – and happens by chance.
Because there is no cure, treatment aims to manage the symptoms – with parents of sufferers urged to get their children to stick to a healthy, balanced diet.
Children with the syndrome can eat up to six times more than children of the same age – and still feel hungry.
It was first described in 1956 by Swiss doctors A Prader, A Labhart and H Willi.
The television star added Harvey’s breathing has got worse in recent months, but says he will be able to go swimming and work out with trained specialists at the college.
In June, Harvey was rushed to intensive care after having trouble breathing. He experienced extreme chest-pains and a soaring temperature and was thought to be at risk of organ failure.
Katie recalled seeing eight doctors crowding around him in the resuscitation room and said she was ‘terrified’ by the horrific ordeal. He was discharged after 10 days.
Katie made the decision to put Harvey in part-time care in April 2019.
The mother-of-five candidly admitted on her show that she ‘had no option’ but to send Harvey, who was 16 at the time, to the care centre, as she admitted it’s ‘selfish’ of her to keep him at home.
The former glamour model admitted: ‘I don’t want him to go, but the doctors and my mum say it is the best thing for him.’
The star then explained to the camera: ‘What they can offer Harvey that I can’t, is daily exercise, a food plan, he can’t go into the cupboards and eat. He’ll socialise with his friends, it’s more freedom for him.’
Fears: Katie said the main focus is to bring Harvey’s weight down, saying she needs ‘to get him the help he deserves because he will die if he doesn’t exercise’
But Harvey had to move back home in March last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Over the last six months, the teenager’s behaviour has got progressively worse.
She told The Sun in November: ‘He’ll smash things up if you say no. I’ve had to re-plaster my walls because he’ll bash holes in them with his head.
‘He knows what nice things taste of. I’ll give him sweet potato chips instead of real fries but he knows the difference.’
She continued: ‘It’s not what he eats in the day, it’s what he eats when I don’t see him. I’ve tried hiding food but he’ll find it.’
Katie went on to say that anyone in the house daren’t leave leftover food lying around as Harvey is ‘really quick’ and will be sure to eat it.
Continuing to outline her struggle with Harvey’s insatiable appetite, Katie previously explained to the publication how she’s taken drastic steps to try and reduce his eating and has even started to padlock the fridge.
Tough: Describing his condition as a ‘cruel and horrible illness’, the reality star described how her son is constantly hungry and will lose his temper if he doesn’t get his food
Katie also said that Harvey, who now wears 7XL clothes, doesn’t understand why she wants him to lose weight.
The worried mum explained how he gets breathless and sweaty just walking up the stairs and that she agonises over his increasing weight, because now the weight is on, the ‘damage’ has already been done.
It comes as Katie emotionally declared her son Harvey is ‘not a thing to poke fun at’ as she said being a mum to a disabled son is a ‘badge of honour’ on Instagram on Thursday.
Promoting the new BBC documentary Katie Price: Harvey and Me on BBC One, Katie wrote: ‘I wanted to share what really goes on behind closed doors.
‘Harvey isn’t a thing to poke fun at, he’s my son, he overcomes mountains and obstacles everyday that other people take for granted. Being a single parent of a disabled child is a badge of honour for me!’
The documentary will air later this month on Monday 25 January on BBC One.
Emotional: It comes as Katie emotionally declared her son Harvey is ‘not a thing to poke fun at’ as she said being a mum to a disabled son is a ‘badge of honour’