Sarah has been an invaluable asset to our family, helping us secure the appropriate services for our son through CPSE and beyond. No other single source offers such concise and practical advice to parents with special needs children in New York City. She’s struggled through the same processes and succeeded. Her approach is personal and offers hope for parents feeling overwhelmed in a very bureaucratic process. If you have any doubts about your education choices, please make Sarah your first call!
There is no one else in NYC who is doing as much amazing work for special needs parents. Sarah’s seminars about the CPSE and Turning 5 processes are invaluable for parents. I can assure you that the time you spend listening to Sarah will have a positive impact on your child.
We are just so very thankful to have found Sarah. We couldn’t imagine going through this complicated and daunting process without her. She has all the knowledge, the contacts, and guided us through the entire process from helping us find the most appropriate schools/programs for our son, preparing questions for meetings, letting us know what our son was entitled to, what to expect, and so much more. The caring support she gave us was invaluable! Sarah was our map through this process, giving us the best directions instead of us wasting valuable time trying to figure it all out on our own by taking countless side roads. I wish all pediatric offices had her info to share with any parents who start looking into evaluations and/or extra support for their child because that way she could be a part of the team at the very start of their new journey. We will certainly contact her again when we need her help.
Sarah was the first person to give us clarity in the very complicated process that we had to go through in searching for the best option for our son with special needs. She gave us very valuable advice, and I recommend her services for parents who need step-by-step guidance. She is amazing!
I feel so fortunate to have found Sarah. It can be very lonely and overwhelming to manage all of these new and complicated issues and agencies. It is so hard to know where to turn. Sarah gave me the guidance and inspiration to help me get the support I needed for my child. She is warm and caring. It is great to have found an advocate – and friend – who can help me through this!
When my daughter was having a very difficult time in her well-regarded public kindergarten program, she started regressing and losing many of the gains she had made in preschool. My frustration was mounting. I was in fight or flight mode, heavily leaning towards flight! My husband had attended one of Sarah’s “Turning 5″ workshops and the information was so clear and helpful that we called Sarah for advice. My conversations with Sarah snapped me out of a negative downward spiral and showed me how to advocate for my child. Sarah gave me invaluable guidance on how to systematically explore education options for my child. My daughter now attends an appropriate school and things are looking up for her and our family. Working with Sarah gave me the strength to do right by my daughter and get the services to which she is entitled. I will not hesitate to call Sarah again if we hit another bump in the road.
My son was diagnosed with expressive/receptive language disorder. My husband and I did not know exactly what that meant, but we did know that it classified him as special needs. So, we hit the internet and researched what it was, how it’s treated, etc. In our travels, we stumbled across Sarah’s website and noticed that she offers a free 30-minute consultation, so we scheduled an appointment. Within that time she gave us just about everything we needed in order to get started in finding an appropriate learning environment for our son! And that was just the beginning. Working with Sarah never felt like business…she genuinely cared about finding the appropriate situation for our son, and took the time to explain to us the pros and cons of each school as they related to him. Sarah is extremely accessible, very affordable, and has many connections! She’s like a celebrity in the special needs world – as she should be – and opened up many doors for us, and more importantly, our son’s new program, which has turned him into a brand new kid who loves to learn! Anyone trying to navigate the NYC school system with a special needs child should START with a call to Sarah!
Sarah is providing unique and far-reaching services to parents of special needs children. Trying to navigate the CPSE system in order to get the appropriate services for my child was, at first, an extremely daunting and frustrating task. With Sarah’s expertise and support, I felt like I gained the necessary knowledge and skills to become the best possible advocate for my child. Not only did Sarah assist me in getting the appropriate services for my child, but she empowered me as a parent and helped me embrace this extraordinary role of being a parent of a child with special needs.
I shudder to think of trying to navigate the Turning 5 process without Sarah’s help. Sarah was there for us every step of the way as a counselor, an editor, a project manager, a knowledgeable advisor and the voice of reason. With Sarah’s help we found the right school for our son, got him admitted to our first choice, and managed to stay sane throughout the process.
There are no words to express adequately how grateful I am that I worked with Sarah Birnbaum. I first met Sarah at her “Life After EI” talk. I was really impressed with her and knew that she could help me navigate the world of Early Intervention. Sarah helped me address all my questions and concerns, from understanding evaluations to deciding whether my child should be in a center-based EI program. Her excellent guidance helped me put in place all the services that were appropriate for my child. She also gave me invaluable preparation for our CPSE meeting and finding a preschool, and with her help, we were successful in getting a wonderful program and set of therapies. She is very knowledgeable and easy to talk to. Sarah truly understands what parents of special needs children go through on a daily basis. Working with Sarah is without a doubt one of the best decisions I ever made.
Sarah Birnbaum’s Turning 5 presentation is a must-see for anyone going through the special needs application process. She manages to pack those two hours full of virtually all of the basic information you need to help navigate the system. I followed up and used Sarah’s consulting services to get advice for my daughter’s specific situation and again, Sarah’s advice proved to be invaluable. We managed to secure the perfect placement for my daughter. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the results.
I attended an informational talk that Sarah gave about the Turning 5 process and how to find the right school for your child. Although I was feeling completely overwhelmed after hearing her information, it was enough to light a fire under me to get this difficult process started. Because of Sarah’s advice, my daughter got into every school we applied her to. I was able to CHOOSE the right school for her. I feel confident in our choice and I cannot wait for my daughter to spread her wings and begin her journey in elementary school.
Sarah is an invaluable, empathetic and objective resource as our family continues to navigate the complicated process of finding an appropriate educational path for our son. She has saved us both time and money by offering clear, concise and well-informed advice.
The summer before my daughter entered a mainstream pre-K with a SEIT, I started researching schools for special needs children. Everyone I talked to – neuropsychologists and school admissions personnel – referred me to Sarah. In a 30-minute call, Sarah explained the entire Turning Five process to me and became my official tour guide through what I call the Alternate Universe of Special Needs Education in NYC. Sarah was a treasured resource for our family this past year. She is always available, responsive and respectful of your time. She has relationships with the schools, doctors and other experts in the special needs world so she can give great and informed advice, but she never oversteps her bounds. She’ll be the first person to tell you when you need to call one of those professionals. Finally, as someone who has been in this “Alternate Universe” for a while, she is a great sounding board and source of strength for all of us who are new to it.
What would we special needs parents do without Sarah Birnbaum? I first called her in a panic over placement for my middle school daughter, and she not only got right back to me, she was extremely knowledgeable, kind, and made my panic disappear – I knew we were in good hands. She knows her stuff, she cares about our kids, and she makes a point of connecting parents to each other if they have valuable information about schools to share. I am so glad to have found you, Sarah!
I thank my lucky stars every day that I happened to find Sarah after some online research into the Turning 5 process. After I initially contacted her, I spoke to my son’s team and they assured me that he was all set for the fall, and I told Sarah that we did not actually need her help. Boy was I wrong! Sarah begged me to speak to her first, free of charge, so she could explain the process to me. She was not looking for money or to build her business, but just wanted to get me on the phone long enough to explain my son’s options. That conversation changed everything and I hired her, and I am so glad I did. Now I can sleep peacefully knowing that he is headed for the right kindergarten for him. Did I mention that I had a baby in the middle of all of this? Sarah was extremely sensitive to my own personal deadline and made sure that despite all of the mounting pressure I would have all of the support I needed for the Turning 5 process. Sarah Birnbaum is not a consultant. She is a guardian angel and a priceless resource to any parent with a special needs child.
The Turning 5 process is as imperative to a child’s scholastic progression as it is daunting. There is a new language to learn and innumerable elements that parents must assemble in preparation for the Turning 5 meeting in order to best advocate on behalf of our kids. It is essential to familiarize ourselves with the details of the process and how to navigate it to achieve a successful outcome. Sarah Birnbaum is an invaluable resource during the Turning 5 process because she’s informed, experienced, and very professional. Her knowledge of the process, available resources, and effective meeting preparation strategy sent me into my son’s meeting with a priceless advantage. I would recommend Sarah to anyone on their journey through the T5 process. The level of dedication and passion that Sarah applies to all that she does truly sets parents up for success.
Having Sarah help me navigate the school selection and application process was the smartest thing I ever did. She knows the schools inside and out, including what type of learner they are seeking and whether the school was a good fit for my child. And she doesn’t just understand the schools’ and children’s needs, she understands how to work with the parents. In my case, she knew exactly how much she needed to push me (a lot) in order to stay on schedule with deadlines, and when to check in with me to keep me on track. She was always available when I needed her (she must work 20 hours/day), and remembered every detail about my child. She is phenomenal at what she does and went above and beyond to help me through the process.
I had heard from various professionals along my path with my daughter that Sarah Birnbaum is the “go-to” person in the special needs world. I went to one of her Turning 5 talks, which provided a world of extremely useful information about a complicated and difficult process. When I saw that Sarah had a full house of people there at the time I went, I completely understood why! She explained everything that is needed about the entire Turning 5 process in a concise, comprehensive, and easy-to-understand way. She gave valuable resources to all attendees that my husband and I have used over the past year. Additionally, in a subsequent conversation I had with Sarah about my child, she was able to further clarify specific next steps for us to take in a realistic, logical way. She really is a wonderful advocate and resource, and my regret is that I was not in touch with her earlier in our process.
I had reached out to Sarah in a major frenzy after being advised mid-year by my daughter’s preschool that she needed to be in a more supportive setting for kindergarten. Sarah quickly made herself available to me and within days, she was in my house helping me with school applications. She also put me in touch with other resources that were pivotal to my search and helped my situation immeasurably. Sarah has a wealth of knowledge and she genuinely cares. While this is something that Sarah does as a “career,” it is comforting knowing she is also a SN parent, and speaks from her own experience and from the heart. My advice to other parents when learning of their child’s diagnosis, and for the daunting Turning 5 process: Do NOT pass Go, do NOT collect 200 dollars, call Sarah immediately. She is worth every penny!!!
It is hard to imagine how parents in New York city navigated the landscape of special education before Sarah Birnbaum’s acclaimed Turning 5 Talks. Sarah is a goldmine of helpful information, which she delivers in a way that is useful and productive, designed to manage rather than heighten the anxiety of this difficult transition. After meeting Sarah at one of her talks, I was impressed to find her on almost every school tour I attended. I took this as a sign of her tireless effort to remain up to date about the very latest developments. She asked knowing and pointed questions that revealed essential aspects of these schools’ programs. In individual counseling, Sarah made a genuine effort to get to know the needs of our child and our family, so that she could help us to make choices that were right for us. There are no cookie-cutter solutions here; Sarah is the real thing. I can’t recommend her highly enough!
Sarah is the go-to person for school advice and contacts. Her connections to other special needs families were pivotal in helping me make my school decision. I thank her — and them — from the bottom of my heart.
When our son’s preschool told us he was struggling in the classroom and we needed to look at a more supportive setting, we were lost, upset, and confused. A friend recommended talking to Sarah to find out more about the special education landscape, and we are so glad we did! Sarah explained each part of the process to us, read all of his reports, and guided us every step of the way to our successful meeting with CPSE. Our son is showing terrific improvement in every way and we are so excited by his progress! Thank you Sarah for all your help!
After I attended Sarah’s Turning 5 talk, I knew she was the person I was looking for to help me with the transition from CPSE to CSE. Her knowledge, support and guidance were really appreciated! She helped me target the most appropriate schools for my son, overcome the application process, and select the right program from my options. During the whole process, Sarah was not only a phenomenal advocate, but someone truly dedicated, talented and warm. Thank you for all your help. I will always remember and recommend you!
Sarah has been extremely helpful to my family. She is a wonderful resource of information and has provided us with incredible guidance on how to navigate the exceptionally complicated world of special needs. She is both clear and compassionate in her approach to identifying the types of environment that may be best for your child. The process of finding the right school for a child with learning differences can be daunting and overwhelming. But Sarah’s vast knowledge and extensive network has made the journey so much easier. In addition to helping us outline potential schools, she connected us with both superb professionals as well as parents who have been in our shoes. I highly recommend her services!
The Turning 5 process is a nightmare. After I heard one of Sarah’s free talks, I had a wealth of information. I knew she would be an invaluable resource when it came time to apply, and boy was she!! Sarah helped me every single step of the way. She is truly remarkable at what she does and worth every penny. I could never have navigated through this process by myself. Sarah is by far the best and most needed asset from start to finish for the transition of CPSE to CSE. My son is on to our first choice school for kindergarten and for that I am forever grateful. Thank you, Sarah!!
Sarah has been an immeasurable help throughout this entire process. Attending her Turning 5 talk was the best thing we did to demystify the tasks at hand and develop a roadmap to getting the desired placement for our daughter for the fall. Sarah is extremely knowledgeable about the different school programs and was frank and responsive to all of our inquiries. We continued to rely on her advice during our school search, the application process, and the ultimate decision about our daughter’s placement. Thank you, Sarah. Your guidance was invaluable.
Sarah is a gift to the NYC special needs community. She has great insight and has proven to be a trusted and indispensable advisor for many.
I wish that all parents of children with special needs could have the opportunity to hear Sarah Birnbaum speak about how to navigate the process of appropriate school placement for their children. In two hours, Sarah armed me with more information than I had been able to obtain in the previous two years. I highly recommend attending one of Sarah’s seminars if you have a child with special needs. It will change your life.
Sarah prepared us and held our hands during the EI and CPSE meetings. If it weren’t for her guidance, our daughter wouldn’t be attending one of the best CPSE preschools! Sarah was truly our guardian angel!
I met Sarah via email early on in our adventure with our son. At that time, we were in the system and moving along just fine. I really felt like I knew a lot about the system and the resources available to me. When everything took a horrible turn for the worse, about three years into it, I realized how little I did know and how much Sarah knows. She talked schools, therapists, resources that I had never heard of. And if she didn’t know, boy did she know at least one person who would have an answer for me, and a good one. She’s incredibly easy to talk to and a wonderful listener. But she is also, just as importantly, a great motivator. It’s easy to get bogged down by the process, and sometimes it feels like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. But she got us going and kept us going. Encouraging and checking up on us – like an amazing personal trainer. Thank you Sarah – we would not be where we are today without you.
Sarah was an invaluable resource to us when our son transitioned from CPSE to CSE and as we researched options for kindergarten. Our son is now in a kindergarten setting that is right for him and our family. We could not have achieved this result without Sarah’s wonderful guidance.
Becoming a special needs mother is the toughest job I never asked for, but having met and worked with Sarah gave me the strength, courage and knowledge to get the services and education my child needed. Sarah was with me for every step of the way during the toughest 16 months of my life—from the day I admitted to myself my three-year old child needed Pre-K special education services to his admittance to a great kindergarten program. She visited schools with me, trained me on what to look for and what to ask, offered advice on which professionals to work with, brainstormed with me on the appropriate elementary schools for my child. She also listened to me and encouraged me to fight when I was feeling defeated. Thanks to Sarah, my child’s future is brighter because she taught me how to be the best mom advocate I could be for my child. And for that, I’m forever grateful.
I am a foreigner with a son with special needs. So, to say that I was lost is an understatement. But hiring Sarah was, hands down, the best decision I made during this difficult process. Her knowledge is truly impressive, and she is also very caring and compassionate.
When navigating the confusing fog that is the Turning 5 process, Sarah helped us with her extensive knowledge, insight, instincts and moxie. Understanding New York City schools and the services that they provide for children with special needs is not for the faint of heart. We will be forever grateful for the guidance that Sarah provided in helping us determine how best to help our son. She’s spectacular.
Facing the new reality of being a special needs parent was overwhelming. It was all happening so fast as we were beginning Early Intervention therapy only a few months shy of our child’s third birthday. Talking to Sarah made all the difference in helping to catch up on all we needed to know and strategize next steps for CPSE.
After visiting many, many center-based programs, Sarah was instrumental as we waded through the pros/cons for each to make our final decision. I would often refer to Sarah as “my therapist” during this time. Sarah was also key in prepping for our CPSE meetings. She is stellar at predicting what district administrators would say and prepared us well with solid documentation and advocacy that was specific to our child. Largely because of Sarah, we now have an excellent set of services that we know will be an enormous benefit to our child’s development over the coming year.
I knew I wanted Sarah to be our special needs advocate from my very first consultation with her. She gave me great information and put me on the path to getting my son the help that he desperately needed. Sarah has made a huge difference in our lives as our advocate. It is because of Sarah that we finally had our son evaluated, and as a result, he was diagnosed with autism.
Sarah is very resourceful and has always put me in touch with some great people who have been a huge help as well. Sarah’s knowledge of the NYC special education system has been of great value. She gave me the tools and knowledge to feel empowered and advocate effectively for my son. She opened my eyes to a whole new world within the world of being a special needs family that I had no idea existed. I will always be grateful for how she has helped my son and highly recommend her to any parent of a special needs child who needs help, guidance, and a listening ear.
Sarah is an incredibly calm, patient and knowledgeable resource for anyone exploring the special needs process for their child. We were confused about the correct setting and Sarah took the time to meet our child. Based on her extensive experience, she advised us on what programs and services would be most appropriate. She was very prompt and always available to answer our numerous questions. We are very grateful for her insights and support throughout the process. It was a great feeling to have someone to lean on for help with such important decisions. Her guidance makes it easier for parents struggling to find appropriate educational and therapeutic resources for their child.
Sarah Birnbaum was our number-one resource when it was time to navigate the Turning 5 process. Sarah is at the top of her game and knows all the ins and out of the special needs world. On top of that, she’s been an absolute pleasure to work with! Always approachable, Sarah has a unique gift of combining “no nonsense” advice with sensitivity, humor, and respect. When my daughter was offered a spot at the school we had been hoping to get into, Sarah was one of the first people I called. We could not have done it without her guidance!!
Sarah, thank you so much for helping us through the roller coaster of the Turning 5 process. You gave us valuable information, guidance and support throughout the process which we would have never figured out on our own. Frankly, you made the process far less confusing and intimidating for us. We will forever be grateful!
When I realized I had to find another school for my mainstreamed second grader, I panicked and felt completely lost. Then I met Sarah, and all of my concerns about the application process were alleviated. She helped me compile a list of schools to which to apply, helped me deal with the applications, and guided me through the whole process. My son is going to the right school for him next year and I am so grateful to Sarah. If I ever need to apply to another school again in the future, Sarah will be the first phone call I make.
Sarah Birnbaum is an incredibly valuable resource. She has always been available, supportive, empowering, and honest. She educated us about CPSE and guided us throughout the process. Sarah encouraged us to move fast and advocate strongly. More importantly, she gave us the tools to do so — and to succeed in our efforts. She understood the issues our child was facing, the educational setting she needed, and the steps we had to take to meet our child’s educational needs. We are very thankful to Sarah for her wise advice and sincere support.
Sarah was a beacon of light in what seemed like total darkness. She helped my family navigate through rough seas and dark times. The Turning 5 process is challenging and Sarah was there every step of the way helping guide us through the process with her infinite experience and support. I felt like I finally had an ally, someone on my team, giving my family the support we needed and longed for. I would highly recommend Sarah’s services. She knows the ins and outs and is always available.
Sarah, thank you very much for all your help, support, guidance, understanding and for sharing your knowledge with us. You are a great person, and an expert in special education. You have helped us become educated about the school options and to help our son to continue moving forward. You gave us confidence and empowered us to believe that we could find an appropriate educational setting for our child. Thank you very much!!!!
The world of special needs was a mystery to us. We went through the process for years without proper guidance and without knowing what was available to help our child. Then, by chance, we went to Sarah’s amazing “Turning 5” talk. Those three hours changed everything. Sarah’s knowledge of the special needs world, and her passion to help special needs kids and their parents, helped empower us to be better advocates for our child. We now know what to ask for, who to speak with, what evaluations are needed and much, much more. We only wish we had known her years earlier. Thank you Sarah!
Sarah Birnbaum was a tremendous resource throughout the entire process. She walked us through what to expect, whom to contact and gave great advice regarding what to consider when trying to determine the best school environment for our child.
Sarah Birnbaum was recommended to us when we were debating whether to move our child from a mainstream preschool environment into a special ed setting. I found her to be incredibly knowledgeable, very organized, and extremely personable to work with. She is up to date with information on schools, services, and experts. She also has a very good insight into the “system” and its nuances.
She patiently and expertly guided us through the process and helped us secure the services my child needed. Fast forward another year, we turned to her again when figuring out kindergarten. Having Sarah as my go-to person was just fantastic – she helped us plan early and thoroughly for this difficult and time-consuming process.
As mom to a special needs child herself, Sarah understands the difficulties parents face in this process. Apart from being a wealth of information, Sarah is genuinely helpful and nice to work with. I highly recommend her services.
Sarah’s expertise and calm demeanor made stepping into the Turning 5 process a lot easier. She provided valuable insight that made the process so much more approachable and less intimidating. As a result, our son will be attending a great school for him in the fall!
When our son encountered difficulties at school, Sarah Birnbaum was the first person to offer us sound and sage advice. Without Sarah’s expertise, knowledge, and resources, we would never have moved so swiftly through such a trying and difficult time. She connected us to helpful professionals and gave us advice about programs that would be appropriate for our son and his unique and complex learning needs. Sarah has the right combination of experience, knowledge, and savvy to help any family navigate the special education services and schools available in New York, and she will hold your hand, lend an ear, and offer a shoulder when needed!
Sarah is an advisor who gives suggestions and feedback with impartiality. It helped to have someone unattached to my specific situation validate the school choices I made. School selection is so stressful for parents, it helps to have someone on your side throughout the process to help weed through all the information.
I’m so glad that I contacted Sarah. She was such a huge help to me in navigating through the CPSE process. It is amazing how much information she gave me, info that I do not think I would have figured out on my own. I’m so happy that my son is finally getting the help he needs.
Finding a kindergarten for my son was not only stressful but remarkably confusing. Sarah was able to help me decipher the differences between schools and find the best fit. And, perhaps most importantly, she was always available, friendly and positive!
Sarah was one of the first people who gave me solid guidance and support, and I will always remember her for that!
Before attending your Turning 5 workshop, I was scared and lost beyond words not knowing what Turning 5 meant for my daughter. Your seminar, your knowledge of the educational system was amazing. It gave me the confidence I needed to find her a school she would strive in. The help and time you gave our family is greatly appreciated. I walked out knowing exactly what steps I needed to take to help my daughter find the appropriate school. She is in a great school and making such great progress. I really owe it to you!! Your expertise, guidance and support is greatly appreciated.
I attended your amazing CPSE workshop. What a gift you are. You have no idea how much better I feel and how much stress fell off of me after attending your seminar. I felt empowered and calm in a way I haven’t since I first noticed my son’s symptoms. There was lots of new information and your suggestions so appealed to me. You make so much sense.
A sincere thank you for your excellent “Life After EI” presentation. Not only was it informative, but you delivered it in an honest, no-nonsense manner which I found totally refreshing. Your one-page summary is a perfect transitioning tool for any parent, and I copied it for each of my son’s therapists and suggested that they encourage other parents to attend.
For me personally, I Ieft your meeting with a spring in my step as you helped clarify something for us. You said one sentence which I know we will always be grateful for: “Do you want your child to make it in a classroom, or to thrive in a classroom?”
I just wanted to THANK YOU so much for your “Life After EI” presentation last night and for tirelessly answering so many questions. I felt shut down upon arrival, feeling depressed and overwhelmed. I walked out feeling rejuvenated, informed, optimistic and empowered. You really inspired me!
I remember when my son was first diagnosed, I had no clue how to navigate the Early Intervention system. So often, I would say to myself: “I wish someone could just tell me what I need to do and I’ll do it.” Sure I read books and researched online. But there is nothing like hearing it from a mom who truly gets it.
Sarah Birnbaum is definitely a mom who gets it. I would have been lost during the Turning 5 process if not for her. Sarah genuinely cares and she is the voice of reason that helps you put things in perspective. She told me what to do when I needed to do it. Going through the process with someone like Sarah is a comfort: she will hold your hand and guide you every step of the way.
When I began the Turning 5 process, I felt overwhelmed. I toured so many programs and could not figure out what would work for my son. I came across Sarah’s website and called her immediately. She gave me wonderful advice, contacts, and information about school programs. Sarah helped me understand the process, and my son is now going to a great school. I am so thankful to have found her.
I want to thank you for such an informative and candid Turning 5 workshop. It is people like you that keep us going. I can’t tell you how grateful I am. You are exceptional!
I attended one of Sarah’s talks last fall and we spoke about my son’s Turning 5 process. He just began Kindergarten and is—for the first time—happy to go to school and happy when he comes home. My wife and I want her to know what an important service she provides and how grateful we are that she does. The information she shared was instrumental in setting us on the right track, and her guidance early on made what seemed an overwhelming process manageable.
Without Sarah’s help, our daughter would currently be in an environment that is totally inappropriate for her. Sarah guided us from the EI system into the best center-based preschool in the city. She was always there for us, ready to answer any question we had. She knows basically everything about this extremely overwhelming system, and is by far the most highly regarded advocate in the city. The money we invested in our time with Sarah is priceless – we would have spent far more sending our daughter to a mainstream preschool which would have been the wrong place for her. Do not hesitate in using Sarah’s services for a second!
Our child was diagnosed with PDD-NOS at age 2.5. I came to the appointment worried about my child and left devastated. I spent the next few days crying without any real clue how to best approach the situation. I tried reading stuff on the internet, but really was so overwhelmed I was not achieving anything.
I am a physician and have dealt with many stressful things in my life. This, however, brought me to my knees. I was thrown into a strange world and was totally lost.
Thank God I found Sarah. This is exactly who you need to speak to. An hour with Sarah is invaluable, and I have to repeat that: invaluable. She not only understands what you are going through, she kindly takes you and guides you with what you need to do to be an advocate for your child. If I could offer any advice to a parent in a similar position, I would tell you to chat with her. She came to all our meetings and it was such a comfort. I left knowing I could not have done any better for my child, and that is all we can hope to achieve. We will be her clients for many years to come.
Sarah was an invaluable resource in navigating the Early Intervention system after a failed attempt at getting services that my son needed and was recommended for. Her guidance, support, and resources helped me be the best advocate for my son, and resulted in EI services the second time around. I am so thankful that I stumbled upon her name in the web world. From our initial contact, it was clear that Sarah is truly an expert in helping parents navigate these systems. I can’t recommend her enough. I know I’ll be definitely consulting her each step of the way.
I was worried and frustrated before I met Sarah. Her amazing resources and guidance opened up my world! They gave me enough courage to be a strong advocate for my child. I couldn’t have gotten through the CPSE process so smoothly without her. She is that person who truly understands our situation, a fellow special needs parent. Sarah, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I was struggling with many questions about the transition from EI to CPSE for my twins. I was getting ready to meet with our district administrator when I turned to Sarah, who made herself available to me in the short period of time I had left before the IEP meeting. Sarah’s advice and expertise were invaluable in preparing me for the meeting and helping me understand my options. She helped me sort out all the information that was buzzing around inside my head and making me feel overwhelmed. Her caring presence was a tremendous support for me, and her help enabled me to advocate for my twins so that I got the outcome I wanted.
Hiring Sarah was the best decision I made as I made my way through New York’s Early Intervention and CPSE systems. I only wish I had worked with Sarah earlier – it could have saved me a lot of precious time and avoidable distress.
Sarah is an invaluable fountain of information about the constantly changing landscape of special needs services. Furthermore, Sarah’s analysis and information is offered with the right mix of warmth and determination. Sarah’s optimistic demeanor was pitch perfect as I faced the state’s bewildering maze of rules and regulations.
After a session with Sarah, we formulated a course of action which greatly helped alleviate my feelings of helplessness. Instead, using her vast experience, Sarah helped me to put in motion a purposeful plan which eventually resulted in my son qualifying for five times the amount of services he had initially received.
Sarah is THE person to go to! I was devastated and worried when I learned that my daughter was not developing typically. Sarah provided much-needed support during a very challenging time. She helped our family navigate the EI, CPSE, and Turning 5 processes. Her experience and advocacy were instrumental to my daughter getting the best services through CPSE and obtaining a spot at an amazing, highly desirable preschool program. Sarah is incredibly hardworking and committed to helping children maximize their potential. My daughter has made tremendous progress over the past few years, and I credit Sarah with helping her get to where she is now.
Our daughter is physically disabled but is cognitively typical. We were having difficulty navigating the bureaucracy of the public school system and the intricacies of the special needs schools. Sarah was a great guide and resource. She helped us find our way to a perfect placement for our daughter.
As the mother of twins, I was very overwhelmed with the Turning 5 process. Sarah really guided me through it all. She took the time to review all reports and spoke to me about the next steps. She gave me such incredible resources and was a great sounding board. She made my year so much less stressful. Anyone who is able to work with Sarah is incredibly lucky!
Sarah was my sounding board during the kindergarten admissions process. I was able to share my thoughts with her after touring schools to get a better idea of what was best for my son. She spent time getting to know him at home and at preschool, then used that accurate picture to help me bring his personality alive in applications. She provided feedback on all my son’s reports and gave me invaluable insight on schools. I am a working mom with limited opportunities to make tours and visits, and Sarah was able to help me figure out the most appropriate programs to spend my energy on. Sarah’s advice was priceless, and now my son is going to a wonderful elementary school.
I started the Turning 5 process with a lot of incomplete and conflicting information, and I spent the first two months stumbling around and getting frustrated. Then I contacted Sarah, because her Turning 5 workshop was by far the best of the four Turning 5 workshops I had attended. After Sarah went through all my son’s reports and evaluations, she gave me a complete picture of our options and helped me to navigate through the process step by step. Also, when my son’s IEP was expanded to include additional therapies, she helped me find excellent providers so I was able to maximize the services we received from the CPSE. Sarah is warm, attentive, and encouraging, and I am so glad I know her.
Sarah is an invaluable resource and guide through the process of finding an appropriate special needs kindergarten. I could not have made it through this process without Sarah. She helped me determine which schools might be a good fit for my son; she referred me to an excellent neuropsychologist; and she helped me articulate my thoughts about my son’s strengths and delays in order to complete the stack of applications on time. Sarah has a unique set of skills: she is incredibly articulate, she is a good listener, she is extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of the process and the schools, she has sound judgment, and she is very sympathetic to the hopes, fears, and concerns that every parent expresses about their child and the future during this process.
Sarah has been an incredible resource throughout the daunting process of finding the right special needs preschool and kindergarten for our son. She guided us through each step of the process, offering not only knowledge and great advice, but also emotional support. I’m not sure how I would have made it through the process without her. Our son was accepted to a wonderful school, and Sarah deserves much of the credit! My only regret is that I didn’t begin working with Sarah earlier, as she has made the experience of having a special needs child much less stressful.
I contacted Sarah when my family decided to relocate to New York City from New Jersey. Sarah was instrumental in helping my son get accepted to a top preschool program in NYC. She then guided me through the entire kindergarten process. My son has now been accepted into a great elementary school. Sarah has a very thorough knowledge of special needs education and has given excellent advice to me.
Since I first realized my son needed special help, I have been looking for a project manager — someone who knows the schools, the DOE, and the process — and could help me tie it all together. Sarah gave me invaluable insights and advice to help me crystallize the issues and make the right choices. She also is a terrific sounding board: like that friend who can listen, but also respond with informed opinions. Thank you, Sarah!
Sarah’s guidance and knowledge played a huge role in the success that our daughter has had this past year. Her assistance was critical in navigating the harrowing processes of obtaining special needs services and surviving the school application process. It was a constant relief to know that Sarah, as a mother of a special needs child herself, truly understood our concerns and was always available to consult, even on a moment’s notice. We feel so lucky to have worked with her!
Halfway through my first phone call with Sarah, I felt like the world had been lifted off my shoulders. She understood my problems and spoke my language. Better yet, she helped me navigate the CPSE process and the processes that followed. Sarah’s knowledge in this field is invaluable. She coaches well and has empathy at the same time. After being under her counsel for the last 15 months, getting my daughter into the appropriate school and in appropriate therapies, we are on track and my daughter is thriving. Thank you, Sarah; you are a true lifesaver!!
Sarah’s talk on the transition from EI to CPSE was informational, empowering, and motivating. After hearing her speak, we engaged her to help us through it, and she gracefully guided us through what could best be described as a potentially stressful and unnerving process. Her expertise and assistance throughout was priceless and something I could not have done without. Thank you Sarah!
When I came across Sarah’s website, I felt like it was answered prayer. Having a child with special needs is challenging enough emotionally and mentally, but figuring my way around the system was another added difficulty. I had no idea what my options and rights were, what services I could get for my son, didn’t understand agencies or roles or how anything related and what we could expect or get. Sarah is like a sherpa who will confidently and encouragingly guide you through the special needs system. She is knowledgeable and kind. She helped me transition from EI to CPSE and successfully get my son the services he needs. Her free lectures educating families on her best tips are testimony to her heart of gold — she’s in this to help special needs children and families, and for no other reason.
Sarah was extremely helpful in providing timely and helpful feedback on draft reports as well as interview strategies for our son’s admission process for special needs kindergartens in New York City. Her knowledge and understanding as a special needs parent puts her in a unique position to help you advocate for your own child to therapists, specialists and school admissions personnel.
Words cannot even begin to express what Sarah Birnbaum has done for me, my son and my family! She came to my rescue when I didn’t have anybody else. All I have left to say is God bless you Sarah and thank you so much from the bottom of my heart!
I attended your seminar “Life After EI,” and I just want to thank you. You are a wealth of information, and I learned more in two hours than I ever thought imaginable. I can’t thank you enough!
My son was struggling in school, and when I was told to find a more therapeutic school for him, my support group recommended Sarah. Getting Sarah’s help was one of the best things I have done for my son.
Sarah looked at the whole picture — developmental history, doctor reports, school reports — and realized that my son was in dire need of additional therapies. Sarah sent over skilled therapists who instantly knew how to work with my son and help him achieve his potential. She recommended schools and prepared application packages, and her empathy helped me through a very dark time. After six weeks of intensive therapy, my son had become so successful that his school reversed its earlier decision and decided he could stay in the program.
Almost six months later, my son is thriving in school, getting the support he needs, and learning to cope appropriately with his challenges. I will always be thankful to Sarah for putting a plan in place that set my son up for success.
Sarah is profoundly knowledgeable. She is a good listener and generous in sharing information and ideas. Sarah has an amazing gift and is very talented, her skills are exceptional and they come with her big, loving heart. She will give you 101% and I feel more than fortunate to know her.
I could not have gone through the CPSE process without having Sarah by my side. I feel I gained the necessary skills in becoming the best advocate that I can be for my son. I have Sarah to thank for giving me the confidence and support needed to be successful in this experience. Sarah not only had my son’s best interest at heart but mine as well, and together the three of us prevailed.
Sarah Birnbaum is invaluable. Period. She is not only knowledgeable, caring, supportive and tenacious, but she will not rest until you are the advocate for your child that you always hoped to be. Her impact on our family has been life changing.
Sarah was my lifesaver when I felt I was drowning and she pulled me back up onto the surface. A colleague referred Sarah to me when my initial CPSE meeting was not successful. Sarah provided me with guidance and preparation needed in an effort to advocate for my three-year-old son. At my reconvene meeting, Sarah held my hand when I felt lost, provided me reassurance, and we walked out of the meeting with victorious smiles. My husband and I can not thank Sarah enough for her emotional support.
I attended your Turning 5 workshop yesterday and I just wanted to say thank you, thank you, thank you for doing this. It was wonderful. You have alleviated so many of my fears and now I feel like I actually understand the process. Your honesty, empathy, enthusiasm, and encouragement are amazing. You are truly an inspiration. Again, thank you for giving your time to us.
Do not go to your CPSE or CSE meeting alone. Please bring Sarah Birnbaum with you!
The transition from Early Intervention to CPSE was a daunting process for me. I was uncertain of so many things. Thankfully, at that time, I got to know Sarah. Sarah EDUCATED me about the CPSE system and TRAINED me how to be a good negotiator with the CPSE administrator.
I still remember how nervous I was during the CPSE meeting. Sarah’s presence in the meeting made me feel so relieved. Since she knew exactly what I wanted to say, she skillfully inserted herself into the conversation whenever I was not quite sure how to respond. It would not have been a successful meeting without her. Thank you so much, Sarah!
I am usually an articulate and savvy person. However, when it came to my son, I was so overcome with emotion that I could not put two sentences together. After having gone through a difficult time with his Early Intervention services, I cannot express how much anxiety I felt about his upcoming initial CPSE meeting. A fellow parent of a special needs child mentioned Sarah Birnbaum and told me to look her up.
Sarah was caring and knowledgeable from our first interaction. She diligently read my son’s reports, told me which areas to highlight, and walked me through all the various scenarios of the CPSE meeting. The prep, although difficult, was invaluable. I was very nervous at the meeting but having Sarah there, and remembering all we discussed, helped me keep my composure, speak clearly, and advocate strongly for my son. Thank you, Sarah, for your encouragement and support.
Having gone through the Early Intervention program, I feel like these IFSP/IEP meetings are make-or-break-moments. Knowing I would have some challenge, I really wanted to make sure we got our first CPSE meeting right the first time. Who wants to have to hire an expensive lawyer and appeal later?
Sarah gave me all the information, preparation, and support I needed to get through the meeting confidently and successfully. We got all the services we set out for, and are so grateful to Sarah for helping us through the process. She has the perfect recipe of experience, knowledge, and kindness. Sarah is thorough and dependable, and I would call on her again without hesitation.
Sarah was invaluable in helping me figure out where my son would thrive in his school placement. She was extremely knowledgeable about the special needs world of NYC, and throughout the process was thorough, organized, caring, and optimistic. Her compassion and attention to detail were extremely helpful in what was a trying time. Sarah’s ability to go above and beyond what is actually requested of her still amazes me, and I can attest that aside from being a terrific consultant on special needs, she is a truly wonderful person as well.
Sarah is an excellent listener who knew what I was feeling and delivered clear, helpful advice. She’s easy to talk to and understand. Working with her is empowering: she often helped me feel more calm and confident, especially during our Turning 5 meeting.
Sarah knows how to explain difficult things simply and easily. She’s a library of resources who indexes quickly through her sources to get you what you want and need. Sarah has a solid-gold code of ethics: fights hard on your behalf, on time, prepared, organized critical thinker, vivacious and optimistic, and she keeps her word. I cannot thank her enough for what she has done for me and my children. Our choice to retain her as my five-year-old son’s advocate turned out to be the best decision we made.
Sarah is willing and able to be whatever you need: a guide, handholder, cheerleader, source of information, source of support, editor, researcher. She is lovely, kind, knowledgeable, and supportive. Sarah organized my thoughts—and sometimes my feelings—better than I ever could have. You will go through the process with an ear to listen and advise at every turn, so you won’t ever be left feeling like you missed something that could have been done.
Sarah’s guidance was incredibly helpful to my family as we navigated the special needs private school application and Turning 5 experience in New York City. She gave me specific and direct advice, and helped us prepare and get through this rather intense and unsettling process. Our outcome was far better than we had hoped for. My child was accepted at a number of schools we liked and we are thrilled to be starting at one of our top choices in the fall.
Sarah Birnbaum helped me understand a complicated report that documented my son’s disability, and helped me get through the school application process. Parents who feel lost and anxious (like I did) should definitely hire someone to help them. I’d highly recommend Sarah to my friends, not only because of her expertise, but also because she is a great person to talk to about the personal struggle involved in advocating for your disabled child’s education.
When my two-year-old daughter was first being evaluated, I was lost, overwhelmed, and very upset. Offering a level of understanding and empathy that I could not find anywhere else, Sarah gently helped me separate my emotions from what needed to be done and make a plan that could help set my daughter on the road to progress. She recommended therapies and specialists, helped me decide on the best school setting, and even offered suggestions for parenting strategies tailored to what my daughter was going through.
Sarah has the unique ability to be both the caring, empathetic friend and the savvy, street-wise insider who has the knowledge you need to find your way through the maze of parenting a child with special needs. It’s been two years now, and I can’t believe how far my daughter has come. I have become her best advocate and could not have done it without the incredible support Sarah has provided.
Sarah provided invaluable assistance in assembling airtight backup for my daughter’s IEP so we had no issues getting a great level of services approved. Based on my prior year’s experience, there is no way it would have gone this way without all of her help. She saved me thousands of dollars by helping me get services approved that I had previously been paying for privately. I strongly recommend her services to anybody going through this process.
Sarah Birnbaum has been our “go-to” person from day one, when we suspected something was amiss with our son. Without her guidance, we wouldn’t have known how to access top-notch services in Early Intervention, get our son set up in a therapeutic nursery, put together a comprehensive program, or transition into CPSE. She knows the special needs landscape inside and out and has been an indispensable guide, helping us navigate this often overwhelming new terrain. Sarah has been available to us about matters large and small, and her emotional support and level-headed advice has been invaluable. Therapists come and go, teachers come and go, but Sarah has been a constant and indispensable member of our son’s team.
Sarah is an amazing source of information about the special needs world. We can’t thank her enough for the tips and advice she has given us about increasing services and getting into great schools. Thanks to her help, our son has improved tremendously. We couldn’t believe that within a year he went from having no words to speaking in sentences; from not being able to say “Mama” or “Papa” to trying to get our attention. I feel very lucky to know Sarah and benefit from her guidance.