Our son Ben is 38 and has autism and moderate learning difficulties. He has challenging behaviour but is much more stable now than he has been, largely due to the high level of support he receives from a care agency, and the large social network that has been created for him over the last few years.
He has had a girlfriend for the last two and a half months. a girl he has known for some time through social activities that they both attend. He is totally smitten with this girl and spends increasing amounts of time chatting with her on social media and through messaging and video chats.
She is not as disabled as he is, having a mild learning disability, and she is able to live alone and hold down a simple job, whereas Ben cannot work, has 24 hour live-in care and relies totally on his support workers who drive him around in his Motability car, budget for him, dispense his medications for epilepsy etc.
We fully support his right to have a relationship and know nothing but good about his girlfriend, but, following her recent stay in hospital, where she was diagnosed with diabetes, Ben spent every day for three weeks by her bedside, and they have now declared that they want to live together.
This was a bombshell for us, and we are very concerned as to how this can possibly happen without impacting upon his care, his housing, his car and all of his benefits which he totally relies upon.
Ben is insistent that this is what he wants, and of course, like a child, he wants it now,
We have spent a great deal of time trying to make him understand that this will take time, probably several years, if at all, because of the dangers to his personal care and safety, and we are helping him to plan longterm using a planning file where we all record next steps in the process.
However we are floundering as we never imagined this could happen and we have no idea how it can be done or how it will work. We are also terrified about Ben unilaterally taking steps which will jeopardise his long term future, such as talking to Social Workers, Care Agency managers etc, which might give them leverage to cut funding, and potential loss of vital benefits that he relies upon.
Does anyone have similar experiences or expertise in this area that could possibly help us with this dilemma?