When faced with having to move their disabled child to a different school or college, families face difficult decisions. Now, reality TV star and ex-model, Katie Price, is on that journey with her eldest son, Harvey, who is about to make that transition.
It was a quiet 18th birthday for Harvey. There were balloons in the garden and presents were opened, including a frog lunchbox and an iPad. For a treat, Katie took him to one of his favourite places – the local train station.
“This is the best train ever. I love it,” Harvey says, taking photographs.
His birthday marks another milestone. It is time to leave school and find a college, a process the family has filmed for BBC One documentary, Katie Price: Harvey and Me.
“It’s pretty predictable to know what will happen with the other kids,” Katie says, who has four other children. “But with Harvey it’s not predictable because he’s got complex needs.”
She says searching for a specialist college has been a “new journey” for her. “It’s not easy and it’s terrifying.”
Harvey was born in 2002. He was diagnosed with Septic Optic Dysplasia, a rare genetic disorder affecting his eyesight, as well as autism and Prader-Willi syndrome which can cause learning difficulties and behavioural problems.
He is unable to control his weight and requires 24-hour care.
“It’s not straightforward, where you can just choose a college,” Katie says. “They have to have the right nursing team and know how to deal with his challenging behaviour.”
It can be a precarious moment and often involves a lot of upheaval including meeting new teams and specialists.
Like many families, the Prices have been warned the most suitable college may be a long way from their Essex home, because there are few of them and they are widely dispersed.
For Harvey, the most appropriate include those in Camden, Wales, Sunderland and Somerset.
The distance, and Harvey’s age, means he will become a full-time residential student, including weekends.
To make sure they find the perfect home, Katie and Harvey have visited as many as possible. It was a process made difficult by Covid-19 and Katie having broken the bones in both her heels in a water park accident.