Torrey Pines grad Carson Wehlage wins Autism’s Got Talent
The Autism Society of San Diego recently crowned comedian Carson Wehlage the Southern California champion of the second annual “Autism’s Got Talent” fundraiser.
Wehlage, 19, an aspiring comedian from Rancho Santa Fe and recent Torrey Pines High School graduate, racked up the most votes in the online talent competition and was named the winner on Aug. 18.
Last year he entered this competition when it was just a regional competition and got runner-up. With hard work and determination to improve his skills over the past year, he reached the number one spot.
“A huge congratulations to Carson,” said Alyssa Label, an Autism’s Got Talent committee member in a news release. “His return to AGT this year was so incredible to watch as he became both more competent in his talent, but also really campaigned to become this year’s winner. While filming at Rock and Roll San Diego, he was so much more confident this time as he owned the stage and can’t wait to see him continue a career in comedy.”
Wehlage, an alumni of R. Roger Rowe School, utilized his natural comedic talent and months of coaching from National Comedy Theater’s “Unscripted Learning Academy” to hone his skills as a comedian.
“Carson fought hard for it and brainstormed every way he could to drum up more support and votes,” said his mother Jan Wehlage.
After entering the competition this year, he rolled up his sleeves “campaigning” by going to events the Autism Society hosted, such as a celebration barbecue for the popular Camp I Can and Surf Camps. These camps play a vital role in aiding hundreds of challenged San Diego youth every summer.
Wehlage gave away free beach balls, bravely introduced himself to families, encouraged them to get a smile from his online performance and even delivered jokes-on-demand.
He also reached out to many friends and teachers who had supported him through the years to let them know of his entry in the competition.
The talent competition has become a real testimony to hope and the rewards of many years of courageous efforts, Jan Wehlage said.
From early in his childhood, Carson struggled with echolalia and an inability to form a complete sentence. His significant behavioral and attention challenges added difficulty on top of this and were so severe that he was awarded a special type of service dog for safety. Only through years of heartfelt and intense effort by teachers, therapists, mainstream children who befriended him and parents and adults of all kinds, he was able to make the progress that has put him where he is today.
Carson is thrilled that his efforts have led to success in winning the championship. His hope is to inspire other youth and their parents who are still reaching for success in their challenges. He wants them to know that it’s possible to “disable your disabilities” and “find success with your passions”. “And to stick with following your dreams because they just might come true if you work hard enough,” he said.
“Autism’s Got Talent helps raise funds for our local Autism Society chapter, but the awareness, opportunities and experiences that our contestants get to experience are like nothing we could have ever planned for,” said committee member Jorie Ellazar. “We are so impressed with all of the entries we received this time and so grateful to everyone who voted to support our performers as well as our organization.”
To watch all contestant videos, visit the Autism’s Got Talent website: autismsgottalent.net
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