‘You don’t send your kids away,’ one tweet read. ‘You keep them home and take care of them! That’s selfish as a mother who can afford home care.’
Seeing downright vile attacks branding Katie Price a ‘bad mother’ made me feel disheartened, sad and angry.
But I wasn’t surprised to see the trolls out in force following Katie’s decision to put 18-year-old son Harvey – who has Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS), autism, partial blindness, and a series of learning and behavioural difficulties – into care.
After all, everyone on the internet knows Harvey and Katie better than they do, right?
But, to me, the moment you voice a gross opinion about the relationship between a mother and her child, your stance on the pedestal of righteousness is gone.
As a nanny, I cared for a beautiful, happy young boy who suffers from Prader-Willi Syndrome. There were three other fantastic boys in the house and the parents were unbelievably patient and loving to all of them.
But there is no denying though that life with a child who has PWS is not a simple one. It leads to a child having an unstoppable appetite but with a fraction of metabolism of a standard person. On top of that, they have distinct behavioural and educational requirements and undeveloped genitals.
They are absolutely vulnerable to obesity as they will treat anything like food – so constant supervision, safety gates, locks on fridges and portion control are an absolute must.
This becomes progressively harder when the child becomes an adult and bigger and stronger than you are. And of course, without support, Harvey would remain as he is, without any indolence or chance at discovering a world outside of his condition.
On top of that, Harvey has significant conditions aside from PWS and Katie made the decision to place him into care as it is an environment that can properly cater for his needs and focus on him with more expertise than a parent can have.
Katie knows her son and everything about him, she knows their bond and she loves him. Whatever you think of her or her lifestyle or work, nothing is clearer to me than how much she adores her children – and I have met a lot of parents; I can’t say the same about everyone.
Funnily enough, Katie has been the target of most of the abuse – from commenting on her appearance to branding her a ‘disgrace’ – while absent father Dwight Yorke, who refused to even acknowledge Harvey as his own until a DNA test, escapes scot free.
So many mothers, particularly those of a disabled child, will understand the agonising wrench Katie faced. But far from being selfish – she is being selfless. I think every personal instinct she had would be to wrap Harvey in cotton wool and keep him by her side – but she knows that is not the right way for him to discover any kind of progress and a chance to gain some independence.
The care home will likely provide Harvey with his own facilities including a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom, as well as access to a swimming pool and a specialist weight control programme. He will also be able to socialise with peers and carers outside of Katie, learning important life skills while surrounded by healthcare professionals trained in helping with his specific needs.
I have also spoken to Katie regarding PWS in the past and know how passionate she is about raising awareness of Harvey’s condition; one that is so very difficult to deal with and doesn’t get nearly enough exposure.
The charity Sense – a charity for people with complex disabilities – has rightfully applauded Katie’s decision, stating: ‘Katie bravely speaking out about her decision to seek full-time, specialist, care for her son Harvey, will help other parents with disabled children to feel less alone, especially those parents and carers in a similar situation, facing questions about the long-term care of their loved ones.
‘Many parents who have a disabled child with complex needs, will have to, when they get older, put them into a specialist care setting, such as residential college or supported living.’
I am delighted that Sense has made this public and yet, this doesn’t stop trolls from trolling.
But unless you are in Katie’s position, you have no place to judge. And that goes for any parenting decision regarding any disability.
You can love your child and make painful decisions that are best for their welfare; the two are not mutually exclusive. Katie isn’t giving Harvey up – she is giving him his best chance at a life he would otherwise not be able to attain.
That, to me, is what makes a brilliant mum – so we should give no time or heed to any anonymous, vile trolling and send her our best possible wishes – as she will be going through a harder time than many of us can ever imagine.
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