In this interview, Joshua Miller of the Autism News Network talks with Collin Butler, the founder of Autism Wishes, an organization helping fulfill the dreams of children with autism. You can connect with Autism Wishes by emailing Collin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
JM: My name is Joshua Miller and I’m here with the Autism News Network and I’m sitting here with Collin Butler [CB: Yes], and he’s with Autism Wishes. How you doing today, Collin?
CB: Very well, thank you.
JM: That’s good. What made — how did you come up with the idea for Autism Wishes?
CB: Well, there were — there were just organizations that were dedicated to fulfilling wishes for terminally ill children but none for autistic children. So —
JM: So would you say that this, um, that this organization — would you say that it is similar to the Make-a-Wish Foundation?
CB: Oh absolutely, but for autistic children.
JM: And it’s cool. And what made you want to s– er alright, I already asked that. That was dumb. Guess we’ll have to edit that one out. [CB: You’re fine.] So, you also have autism don’t you?
JM: Alright so what was it like growing up with autism?
CB: Well it was tough at first because I couldn’t speak and I did things that normal people couldn’t understand.
JM: But what — like, what kind of stuff did you do differently or that people didn’t understand?
CB: Like, I don’t know how — how to explain this, um, like maybe throw — throw tantrums or —
JM: Like meltdowns?
CB: Oh yes.
JM: Because I know for me, you know I had meltdowns, and you know I’d, like, when I used to play with my Hotwheel cars, I don’t know if you did this, but I used to line them up in straight lines —
JM: I was very neat and ordered on how I did things — did you do similar stuff or?
CB: Mmm, kind of. Like, for example, alpha– alphabetizing DVDs —
JM: Yes [JM laughter], I did that too but with my books.
JM: So, um, did you — I mean I don’t know if I asked you this or not but did you experience bullying when you were in school?
CB: Mmm, I wouldn’t say so because I got treatment early and —
JM: That was good. So, um, let’s see. Alright so, in the — um, so you went to — what college did you go to?
CB: University of South Carolina in Columbia.
JM: So what was it like, um, going to USC knowing that since you have autism?
CB: I mean, I mean I could get by okay. I mean, I had the help with disability services but —
JM: Like, well I mean I guess what I’m trying to ask this is, um, I mean what were the services that the — that the college gave you that — that helped you be able to get get, um, get through college, I guess.
CB: Like maybe say, maybe say counseling or [JM: Okay] tutoring sometimes.
JM: Well that’s good. How did you, um, go about obtaining the, um, funding for making this, for making Autism Wishes happen?
CB: Well we’re going to, we’re talking about doing fundraisers, like public fundraisers.
JM: Like Go Fund Me Pages and –?
CB: Poss– possibly or maybe like in-person fundraisers, you know [JM: Ah, cool.] like events.
JM: Let’s see. And, um, how, um, how do you go about the, um, the selection process?
CB: Well — well, we wouldn’t grant violent wishes obviously [JM laughter] but —
JM: No, that would — that would be bad, wouldn’t it?
CB: I mean, of course we’ll — we’ll try to make everyone happy [JM: Right.] if possible.
JM: And that’s the important thing. And, um, who do you have as, um, who do you have as a — as a support? Like, you know, to help you with this organization?
CB: Oh, my mother.
JM: That’s cool, and you got anybody else or?
CB: Mmm, not yet but we’re hoping.
JM: Because this just started back in, when, January you said?
CB: Right and it’s only just getting started because of events — but
JM: Alright and, um, where did you get the, um — (Let me see, where was I? Okay.) where did you get this fabulous gear and accessories? Like, um, what is that, um — a beach towel?
OFFSCREEN: Can you show it up?
JM: Can you, um —
CB: Well, I’m not sure where, exactly, [JM laughter] this comes from but —
JM: That is really cool. And can we, um, is there way that people can buy it or —
CB: Well, of course I’ll have to talk to my mom [JM laughter] and see what she thinks but —
JM: And, um, if you had a crystal ball and you could see into the future, where would you see yourself and Autism Wishes in five years?
CB: Hopefully na-, hopefully national nationally respected, helping to bring — gain greater acceptance, making people happy.
JM: That’s all that anyone can wish for really, right?
CB: Oh, of course.
JM: Does anyone else have any questions? Oh?
OFFSCREEN: I have one. [JM: Dr. Gwynette.] Was there a particular child that you saw who inspired you to make Autism Wishes? Um, or was there a certain experience you had on watching another, uh, Make A Wish or something like that that made you say I want to do that too?
CB: No one.
JM: And what was the spark that gave you the idea to, you know, just say I want to do this.
CB: Well, I just came up with it on my own. There was, like, no significant spark. I mean, I think a lot so —
JM: Right. Yeah, I know I think a lot — I do it quite too much. [Laughter] It gets me into trouble sometimes. Does anyone else have any questions? Well this is, um, like I said my — this is — I’m Joshua Miller and I’ve been sitting here with Collin, um, [CB: Butler.] Butler. I’m sorry I’m [CB: You’re fine!] terrible with names [CB: You’re fine, you’ll learn.] and we were talking about, um, his organization Autism Wishes. Um, thank you.
OFFSCREEN: And cut.[MUSIC]