I'm going to try and keep this "brief" as best I can. I am just completely lost and don't know where to turn.
My ASD son Jacob, now 15, was diagnosed at 18 months. I also have a 12 year old son, Noah, who although not diagnosed, quite possibly falls within the high-functioning/Aspergers end of the spectrum. Noah is NT for the most part, but has significant learning disabilities.
Jacob is largely non-verbal. Can communicate wants/needs, repeat things that are said, but has no conversational speech. In addition to autism, he is diagnosed with ADHD and Crohn's disease. His behaviors have always been extreme and this has interfered greatly with his progress. His dad and I divorced when he was 10 and his brother 7. At the time I had custody of both boys. Over the years Jacob has had increasing problems with aggression, particularly with his brother and other young children. I made the decision several years ago to put him in a temporary placement to try and get him some help. This placement lasted for 6 months and realy did no good for him as the supports/therapies that were promised during this placement were not lived up to. When it was time for him to be discharged, it was clear that the school system where I lived was not going to be equipped to handle him. Because of this, and also out of concern for the safety and well-being of our other son, my ex and I decided it would be best if Jacob lived with him, and Noah lived with me.
My ex and I have both since remarried. Jacob's behaviors continued to spiral out of control after moving to live with his dad. Despite this, and knowing that it is unwise for Jacob to be around small children my ex and his wife (via vasectomy reversal) decided to have a baby. Not my business I realize, other than the impact this would have on my son. Jacob became aggressive and violent with his stepmother while she was pregnant and again a temporary placement was sought for him. This placement was at another facility and lasted 15 months. This was a MUCH better arrangement for him. The therapists, aids, etc at this facility were AMAZING. A protocal was put in place to manage his behavior. Things were about as close to perfect as we could ever hope to get for Jacob. This was, however, only a temporary option, and he returned to his father's home 3 years ago. His father and stepmother have their opinions as to why this is, and I have mine, but very soon after leaving the facility his behaviors spiraled right back down to where they were before-and worse. It was several months after he returned home that he was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. My mother has dealt with Crohn's for over 50 years and because of her experiences with the disease, as well as my own research, I would prefer alternative and less aggressive approaches to his treatment. His father however has opted toward the more conventional measures. Presently this includes him being on two different steroids. Many of you will be aware of the fact that the side effects of steroids is aggression. Naturally I am failing to see how this is helping his situation. I also have issues with how they treat Jacob (too much centered on a heavy hand, and not enough love and compassion) but getting into that would add too much to an already lengthy post.
Anyway, things have gotten so bad, that his father has made it clear that he no longer wants Jacob in his home and that he wants a permanent placement for him. You all are probably thinking, "What is the problem? You will just have to take him." In a perfect world, I would like nothing better. But I have our other son's safety and well-being to consider. I don't want to "kid swap" and have Noah live with his dad, and Jacob with me. Noah, because of our divorce and also after seeing his brother be put in two different placements already, has abandonment issues. And frankly, I don't feel his father/stepmother are all that understanding/compassionate regarding his own learning disabilities/needs. The school Noah is currently attending has been AMAZING for him and although he still has a long way to go to catch up to his peers, he has made significant strides. I don't want, and can't, disrupt that. The situation is further complicated by two other factors. My husband's job took us out (temporarily) to the east coast, (my ex lives in the midwest). I have tried going back to help with Jacob as frequently as I can, but commitments made between my husband and I to assure that have not ben lived up to. We were actively working toward moving back to the midwest, when a month ago i was hospitilzed and had major surgery due to a ruptured brain aneurysm. Needless to say that has put a serious wrench in those plans. It also means I am not physically capable of taking care of Jacob right now. I can barely take care of myself. I cannot drive. Simple things like taking a shower, doing dishes, and making dinner make me dizzy and send me to the brink of exhaustion.
I don't know what to do. I feel like mine and my children's worlds are about to come crashing down around us. I love BOTH of my sons with every fiber of my soul. I want what is best for BOTH of them. As painful as it is, a permanent residential placement is probably what is best for Jacob. But the options for that where his father lives are slim to none. It seems like the only options are the status quo or foster care, neither of which is a good option. Foster care wouldn't guarantee that Jacob would get the help he so desperately needs, and I am also guessing that choice would mean I would lose all rights to have a relationship with my son. The thought of that literally makes me ill.
I just don't know what to do.