INTERVIEW: Katie Price: Harvey and Me, one parent’s journey during the transition year

Katie Price is a devoted and dedicated parent, and her new BBC One Documentary Katie Price: Harvey and Me showcases the powerful journey to support her eldest son’s transition from child to adult services.

Airing on BBC One tonight (Monday 25 January 2021) at 8:30pm, viewers will get an intimate insight into Katie and Harvey’s journey to find the right residential college to meet Harvey’s complex needs.

TRANSITION YEAR

Currently Harvey, who is autistic and has Prader-Willi syndrome and is partially blind, attends residential school from Monday to Friday. However, as he is now 18, Harvey is preparing to move to college so he can gain further independence.

“In the documentary, I am looking for a college for Harvey,” explains Katie. “I am looking for a college for him to go full-time. But Harvey won’t be there all the time; he has the choice to come home. The next transition from 18 to 25 is to learn important independent skills.

“At weekends, Harvey and his new friends he makes at college may want to go to the cinema or go to a disco, so Harvey might not come home that weekend – this is so he has an option and independence. 

“He can be an adult and have a choice.”

CHALLENGES

Throughout the documentary, Katie and Harvey’s close bond and relationship is evident. The love of a mother and her son is palpable, with Katie clearly working to ensure the best outcome for Harvey is met.

Despite this, challenges are faced, with trying to find a college during the pandemic and, ultimately, manoeuvring the system from child to adult services. Harvey will be in his current school until June of this year, preparing to start at residential college in September.

With this timescale to consider, Katie needs to find the right college to meet Harvey’s needs and also his interests. As a keen artist, Harvey thrives in the art department, but despite National Star being their first choice of college, it is ultimately up to Katie’s local authority to approve Harvey’s application for funding. 

Katie continues: “It is hard, I’m not a technophobe but a lot of things are online and you have to fill out forms online – it isn’t easy. I still find it hard. 

“There is so much you have to do that I didn’t realise, I still haven’t found a college for Harvey, yet, because of COVID. It is certainly hard. Everything changes now he is 18; he’s a man, he has a decision, but I do make decisions with him.”

PRIVATE

In the documentary we see personal glimpses into the life of Katie and Harvey, it is an insight into a side of Katie many of us have never seen or acknowledged before. 

Katie emphasises: “This is a private insight into Harvey’s life and journey, and what it is like to be a parent of a child with complex disabilities and additional needs. 

“I wanted to show that Harvey deserves to learn life skills, it is a calm documentary, it is raw. 

“I do show a lot of Harvey, but it is also an insight to being a mum with a child who has challenging behaviour. I want to show what we go through, because I don’t think parents, carers and nurses get the respect they deserve. It doesn’t get easier it gets more challenging.”

Whilst visiting colleges, we see Harvey thrive and become mesmerised in the Sensory Garden at National Star, whereas in another college he becomes distressed and his only form of communication is to bang his head against the door. This is a form of expression many parents of autistic children will recognise.

MENTAL HEALTH

During the documentary, Katie meets up with other families raising disabled children transitioning into adult services, and discuss the hurdles that many can face in society.

The harrowing realisation for Katie comes when she learns that ­– prior to the Mental Health Act 1983 changing in January – there was the potential for Harvey to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

“I know that when Harvey kicks off it can be frightening and stressful to watch, but there are ways to calm him down. You need to have patience,” explains Katie.

“I hope the documentary also educates people that if you are autistic, you might look alright but if your senses are overwhelmed you could go into a rage, but you just need patience and calm. 

“It is heart-breaking to read about the people who have been sectioned; if Harvey was sectioned, put in a room with no stimulation, with nobody who understands him, takes his and my rights away – I couldn’t imagine it.

“I never knew about sectioning and how many people with mental health issues and autistic people are in section. It is hard for the families because they can’t get to their loved one. 

“It is so sad. I would like to do a documentary on that alone, to be honest, because I didn’t know anything about it.”

Every parent has challenges to overcome, and it is refreshing to see Katie shine a light on such an important issue that many parents of disabled children will recognise or soon be experiencing first hand.

Watch Katie Price: Harvey and Me on BBC One tonight, Monday 25 January 2021, 8:30pm.