Meet Eric K.
Meet Eric K., 29
Being a father is something I always dreamed about. I basically have a photographic video in my mind of the exact moment we found out we were becoming parents.
Eric was diagnosed with autism at 13 years old, but he always knew he was different than most of his peers, especially in high school. His need for repetition and a tendency to obsess over certain topics can evoke his biggest challenges, but it’s those same behaviors that often contribute to some of his biggest accomplishments.
Being extremely detailed oriented and having an incredible memory has helped Eric throughout his life in many ways. He graduated from Pace University with a bachelor’s degree in communications studies with a focus in marketing, is enjoying a fruitful career at a large media company and has recently started a beautiful family with his wife, Tsivya. Eric says the birth of their daughter, Gemma, in October 2019, has given him a new perspective on life – especially when it comes to prioritizing what’s important and trying to focus on living in the moment.
Learn more about Eric and his experiences as a dad on the spectrum in this Q&A:
When you found out that you were going to be a dad, what thoughts ran through your mind?
I felt like I was on top of the world and also a little emotional. Being a father is something I always dreamed about. I basically have a photographic video in my mind of the exact moment we found out we were becoming parents. I suddenly lost my father in 2017, so I also felt like it was a message from him.
What did you do to prep for your life as a dad before your child was born?
My wife and I read some baby books. We also took a class before my daughter was born for new parents to be. In addition, my wife and I spoke to other family members and asked for advice from other parents.
How has life changed since the birth of your child?
Life has changed tremendously since the birth of my daughter. I tend to not get as much sleep as sometimes we are up in the middle of the night with my baby. Caffeine has become my middle name as I have increased my coffee intake. (Laughs.) Most importantly, I feel I found my purpose in life now. It’s the greatest feeling in the world waking up every day knowing my wife and I have our little bundle of joy to take care of.
Being a father has helped me become even more responsible if you can believe that. Also, I am a sports fanatic and love to watch the Yankees, Knicks, Giants and Rangers, however now I can’t watch all of the sports games that I would have because I know that my wife and daughter take priority over my favorite teams.
What advice can you give to other autistic people who are preparing for the arrival of a little one or thinking about trying to get pregnant?
For the people who are preparing for the arrival of their little one, I would say it’s important to always stay in the moment and enjoy every single second of the experience. Specifically, for autistic people preparing for the arrival of a little one or thinking about trying to get pregnant is to communicate with your partner about any struggle you might foresee having as a parent in relation to being on the spectrum. Whether or not your partner is on the spectrum, it is important to share how you think being autistic might affect your ability to parent.
Another piece of advice I have is to consult a therapist who can help you work through your struggles with parenting and provide you with strategies that can help you and your partner. Things hardly ever go as planned no matter how much preparing you do, so don’t get anything stuck in your mind on how you might want something to be. It’s important for parents to be flexible.
Lastly, I would like to say soak it all in on delivery day! Seeing your baby come into this world is one of the greatest milestones in life!
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about having a child?
Firstly, I would make sure you have discussed your ASD thoroughly with your significant other. Before creating a family it’s important for your significant other to know what you may have struggled with when you were growing up. Communication is everything.
Also, don’t put off having children if that is something you’ve always wanted. For me, I worried about finances because children are expensive, but at the end of the day you will make it work out just like we are.
What are a few life lessons you hope to pass down to your child?
Passing down family values to my daughter is very important. Family traditions are vital in my book. Teaching my daughter how to be a good person and treating others with respect is also so very important to me. Also, the importance of being well educated person is something I’d love to instill in my daughter.
What do you like to do as a family?
Well, before pre-COVID my family and I would love to take walks on the beach every weekend. We love spending time with extended family, but during these unprecedented times we Zoom on a fairly regular basis. We also enjoy reading books to our daughter.
Have you thought about the future and speaking to your child about autism and some of the ways its impacted your life?
I have absolutely thought about speaking with my daughter in the future about how being on the spectrum has impacted my life. I would also tell my daughter to value everyone for who they are because being on the spectrum has not stopped me from fulfilling any of my dreams, but actually provided me with some of my greatest strengths. I believe it’s so important to have those conversations with your children so they can learn about your life and the things that made you who you are today.
What is your father’s day message to all other dads out there?
Well this is such an exciting time in my life!! As a new father, obviously this will be my first Father’s Day. My message is to enjoy your day and do something special that you like to do with your child. Us fathers are always working so hard to provide for our family and making sure your child is happy, so this day is all about honoring all of those amazing fathers out there.