How I Know I’ll Always Be Able To Help My Special Needs Son

I got this. Whatever it is, I got it.

Some people don’t understand what I mean when I say that, but it’s pretty straightforward. I can handle whatever issues come my way. For the people close to me, whatever I can do to help, I will. Relax, fam. I got you.

I say that to my son a lot. He knows I have his back. He knows we all have his back. In times of need, he comes to me immediately. If I don’t fix it right away, he looks at me perplexed. He sees me as Superman. That makes me smile, even if I sometimes know my cape is made from smoke and mirrors.

When Lucas was first diagnosed with autism, long before we knew he’d be non-verbal at twelve with many life skills left unlearned, I wasn’t sure I would always be able to help him. My fear then was a familiar one that crept up on me during every major problem I faced over the past decade. I had thought I would surely fail.

Maybe it was the company I kept or the words I let seep into my brain, but the atmosphere was always heavy with a sense of definite failure. It was like having the imposter syndrome without feeling like you were even being a good imposter. It was as if I was the last one picked for the team of life and the challenges that crept my way were always daunting.


In 2012, when I had my surprise quintuple bypass surgery, I was convinced I would fail in the recovery process. While I changed my diet and exercise habits right away, it was the temperament that worried me the most. People annoyed me. Truth be told, they often still do. I was positive I would lose it over some random nonsense and then keel over like I almost did on that unseasonably warm December afternoon.

The day I stared in the mirror and chastised myself was the day that everything changed. I said aloud, “You’re going to die because you can’t even just relax.” Maybe it was seeing my own face repeat that back to me. Maybe it was maturity creeping up. Maybe it was always the truth, but I needed to shed self-doubt. Either way, my mood shifted. I altered my life. I knew I had this. Ten years later, I still do.

Leaving my house and getting a divorce was never in the cards. I grew up with a strong, if not ironic, sense of family and commitment while silently judging those who couldn’t stay married. Surely they did something wrong. This was never going to be me. It was never on my radar…until it was.

Restarting life in your 40s? It’s like a failed sitcom pilot. Having lost touch with the family that raised me years earlier, I had no one to call for assistance if things went sour. Essentially, I was jumping out of the marriage plane without a parachute. There was no real support system to catch me if I splattered outside the crash pad. Did I really “have this”?

Yup. Three years later, I still have this. It was a rough transition at times, but I ended up soaring way above the plane I had leaped from. Life is good. I’m good. I did it.

Last November was the most recent time of self-doubt, but it was noticeably less intense My dream job was eliminated the month before Christmas. Unemployment was incredibly delayed and then, right after the new year, my car died. I was ready to be homeless. A showcase of doubts played in my head every single day and, as sick as it sounds, some mornings I was disappointed that I woke up. Yet, it didn’t consume me like I thought it would. I remarked to people that I was eerily, “OK”. And I was.

The difference was that, all these years later, I had a plan and knew I could persevere. I mapped out the steps I needed to take to get back on my feet. I factored in bills, timing, and expenses. I figured out probabilities and alternatives. Was there a chance I would fail? Sure. Did I? No. Not even close.

I had it. I knew it. In the end, the plan came together like an episode of The A-Team. I pity the fool who didn’t believe in me.

james lucas g


Every step of the way, I’ve handled what I needed to handle. There’s never been anything that I haven’t overcome. Am I bragging? No. Do you know why? Because the same can be said for all of you reading this.

The problems in our lives don’t kill us. We push on. If you’re reading this, you’re alive. Nothing has destroyed you. Nothing has finished you. You’re still standing with enough leisure time to read blogs with A-Team references in them. How bad could the outcome of whatever challenge you faced really have been?

That knowledge is what drives me to wake up tomorrow, happy each morning that my eyes opened. That knowledge lets me remove myself from toxic, yet comfortable, relationships. That knowledge tells me that there’s nothing I can’t handle.

And because of all that, I tell my son, “We’ve got this.”

Will there be new challenges for Lucas tomorrow? Yes. Do I know what they are? No. They could be anything. Then again, that could be said for my daughter. That can be said for any of us. Where we are now has nothing to do with where we will go. How we handle things today, though, speaks volumes about how we’ll handle them tomorrow.

Whether he finds himself in a group home, living alone, or writing speeches for President The Rock in 2040, my son is going to be taken care of as long as I am here. I have no doubt in my mind that we’ve got this. I know because we always have.



Watch: James Guttman speaks to the Massapequa SEPTA about Autism Awareness, Autism Acceptance, and Autism Appreciation. 💙 

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