Photo by Jeannie Frey Rhodes. Chair courtesy Denicola's Furniture & Upholstery.

Sandi Robinson, Battle Against Autism

Sandi Robinson was turned away.

Actually, she was one of many. Her son Mack had high-functioning autism but—due to space limitations—couldn’t get the care he needed through the then Baton Rouge Speech and Hearing Foundation in 2009. Robinson was disappointed for Mack and struck by the number of children left languishing on a never-ending list of needed services.

“Despite the fact that he was living and breathing, at that moment I was unable to count our blessings,” says Robinson. “I wanted only two things: I wanted Mack to get the help he needed, and I did not want another mother to ever have to stand there and feel what I was feeling–helpless.”

Robinson gladly accepted a nomination to the BRSHF’s board of directors, with the goal of gaining a working knowledge of the foundation’s history and its vision of the future. She strongly believed that Baton Rouge needed a center for autism—and it was important to her that no child be turned away solely based on the family’s inability to pay. She felt led to raise money and make a difference.

Her husband Chip, along with friends and supporters, launched the first Battle Against Autism golf fundraiser at the Country Club of Louisiana in 2010. The following year, Sandi served as chair for the car raffle and they added a kickoff event the night before the tournament with food, drinks, entertainment and an auction at Ruffino’s. It was a huge success.

“We garnered more support than we ever thought possible, and we were truly humbled by the efforts of everyone who rallied around the cause,” says Robinson. “To date, we have raised well over $1.2 million for the construction of the Emerge Center, the expansion of the autism program and a scholarship fund to help families avoid a delay in services due to high insurance deductibles or out-of-pocket expenses.”

Robinson is currently working on a redesign of the BAA website in order to make it more beneficial to families as a source of inspiration and support. Her goal is to make it a place to connect families, a forum to ask questions, an outlet for advice from professionals in the field, and just a place to be heard. And Robinson knows that a lot of families just want to be heard.

“I often receive phone calls from families whose children have been newly diagnosed on the spectrum. I really enjoy offering support and providing information on resources to assist them in navigating the waters of autism,” says Robinson. “I know it helps them to realize they are not alone.”

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Quick Glance

How is Battle Against Autism making a difference? 
It is expanding the number of children receiving autism services through the Emerge Center.
What do you hope to achieve? 
I want to give these children the gift of early intervention.
What is something that we don’t know about your group? 
We have created a new Battle Against Autism website that is more informational and interactive with a community forum.

If you know someone who would make a great Woman with a Cause in 2016, let us know by emailing [email protected]!