La Crosse, WI (WXOW)-- The sign out in front of Sloopy's Alma Mater Tavern always advertises events going on in La Crosse. This week, they're advertising a lantern release to raise awareness about autism. Something that means a lot to the owner of the bar
"My wife and I were out to dinner, talking about having kids. And the next day, I was a police officer in Alaska, and my next day was an abandoned baby. He was 10 days old and that's my oldest son," said Adam Weissenberger. "And obviously we didn't know with our son that he was autistic."
Adam's son was diagnosed with autism, when he was two and a half.
"The hardest part, at least as a father, was admitting it," Weissenberger said. "It was a waiting time to get in to the assessment. The assessment was three or four days."
It can take days to conduct the tests to diagnosis autism, but now a new study from Harvard Medical School shows that a seven-question survey can fast-track the diagnosis process.
The CEO of the Chileda Institute, which helps autistic children and adults, says the earlier a child is diagnosed, the better.
"There's a window of time that they've identified, where the brain is really very pliable," said Ruth Wiseman, CEO of Chileda Institute. "And if we can get kids identified, students identified, during those birth to three years, and help the brain really make those connections, that's really a beautiful thing."
Meanwhile, Adam is working to raise awareness about autism, and is part of the La Crosse Area Autism Foundation.
"We just thought, hey, we can do this for kids that don't have, maybe families don't have certain needs met," Weissenberger said.
And Sunday night, he hopes to see Fox Hollow Golf Course light up with blue lanterns, in honor of kids just like his son who he describes simply as:
"Blessing in disguise, absolutely awesome. I wouldn't change it for the world"
If you want to participate in the lantern light, you can purchase a lantern at Sloopy's.
The event is Sunday from 6 to 8 at Fox Hollow Golf Course.
For more information, you can check out the Sloopy's Facebook page.
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