Testimonials

imghomeWhen I learned my family was moving to NYC from California, I immediately panicked. I had no idea how or where to start in getting my special needs daughter into a preschool program with services. By the grace of God, someone mentioned Sarah Birnbaum to me. After speaking with her for 10 minutes, I knew she was exactly what I needed and a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders. She held my hand every step of the way 6 months prior to our move to NYC and throughout the entire next year. We completed the IEP process and also the Turning Five process with Sarah. Her exceptional guidance was invaluable and I highly recommend her to anyone going through the daunting and confusing special needs process.

—Eryn M.


I attended your “Life After EI” seminar and I just want to thank you for the hope, inspiration and empowerment you provided to every parent in the room, especially myself. I needed all the information I learned, and I’m so grateful for the resources.

—Mary C.


Our son was having an incredibly challenging transition to middle school and we were weighing our options. Late in the school year, we were referred to Sarah by another professional. We reached out to her and in the space of one phone call, she gave us advice that helped us change everything for him. Ten minutes after we spoke with her, we had a plan of action. We were eventually able to find a new school for him that was a much better fit. Considering how late we were getting the process going, we consider the whole experience nothing short of life saving for him. I cannot emphasize this enough. And in just one 30-minute conversation, Sarah was instrumental in the life saving. So, THANK YOU SARAH!!!!

—Lisa S.


Sarah Birnbaum is a invaluable resource to parents with special needs kids. Not only does she know the system inside and out, she has gone through this experience personally and has the insight and empathy of someone who has gone through this grueling process herself. If you have a child with special needs, do not miss her Turning 5 talk!

—Meghan G.


One phone conversation with Sarah changed our lives. I cannot thank her enough for her wisdom and good sense.

—Brooke B.


Sarah Birnbaum got me through a tough year. My student was in 7th grade in a NYC public school with an IEP, but learning differences weren’t being properly acknowledged or addressed. Sarah was my guiding light. She listened. She read IEPs and educational evaluations and reports. She helped us figure out schools that might be a good fit and gave me feedback on how to make the applications shine. Sarah was super-responsive, spot-on in her insightful suggestions and recommendations, and a steady presence when things looked bleak. She pretty much kept me sane. Can’t thank her enough for being so knowledgeable and supportive!

—Amalia F.


Sarah came highly recommended from a close friend and we are so thankful for that recommendation. When we met Sarah, we were already deep into the process of finding a new school for our son – his evaluations had been completed, our school applications were submitted, and we were talking to other experts. Our questions were based on finding the appropriate school for our son. Sarah was beyond knowledgeable about the schools that were available to us, but more than that, Sarah listened to our concerns, learned about our child and family and gave us 100% honest feedback, which we needed to hear. She even squeezed us in one day when I “SOS” her; we were confused, desperate and under school admission deadlines. Her efforts, guidance and understanding were priceless. We can’t sing her praises enough.

—Kathy and Scott L.


I first heard about Sarah after my son was diagnosed with ASD and several motor planning and speech delays (he was 18 months at the time). I was overwhelmed about where and how to effectively start advocating on his behalf. Sarah is extremely knowledgeable, direct and concise with her recommendations. She knows the various options and key players in NYC and was able to give me invaluable information and guidance to point me in the right direction. Her various free talks are also amazing – she is so generous with her time and genuinely wants to help parents and children find and obtain the most appropriate resources. Now my son is heading to kindergarten next year and I’m so grateful to have had Sarah as my beacon of light throughout the process.

—Frances O.


Sarah Birnbaum is an incredible resource for parents navigating this often confusing Turning 5 and kindergarten search process. Sarah went through an amazing amount of information in her lecture and presented it all in terms we could understand. She shared a clear road map from the spring through the kindergarten application process (both public and private) and how to best prepare for the actual Turning 5 meeting.

My husband and I both attended Sarah’s Turning 5 lectures in the spring and found her guidance invaluable, often referring back to our notes to keep us on track. We also referred a lot of other parents we met to Sarah’s lecture and everyone came away grateful that they attended and grateful to Sarah for offering her much-needed services for this community. Sarah is well-respected by parents and school administrators as well as by evaluators and other experts. Her name came up again and again at every school tour as a valuable resource. Having seen her on more than one school tour, it is clear that she goes out of her way to stay informed and up to date on the latest school offerings so that her advice and guidance are timely and relevant.

As a parent of a child with special needs, it can often feel like nobody else understands all the extra hoops and hurdles you must go through to advocate for your child. Sarah not only understands but is also there to support families every step of the way and has made that education and advocacy her mission. Thank you Sarah!

—Gayle M.


I attended Sarah Birnbaum’s free talk on the Turning 5 Process last May. Thank goodness I did! The wealth of information that she shared that evening galvanized me into action. Her information and advice has proved to be invaluable during the grueling process. We still have a ways to go, but thanks to her, I was able to get all my ducks lined up at the right time and my daughter has been offered a spot at our top choice. Without Sarah’s wonderful, terrifying, hopeful and accurate information, I wouldn’t have even known where or when to start. I cannot recommend her highly enough. Thank you for sharing your expertise so generously with those of us struggling to navigate the arcane world of Special Needs in NYC.

—Melissa M.


During a particularly stressful and confusing time, Sarah provided us with much-needed clarity and information so that we could make the best choices for our child. She is beyond resourceful and compassionate, and smart as a whip. Call her, call her, call her!

—Amy B.


I was struggling to decide on the right elementary school placement for my 4-year-old son. I attended Sarah’s Turning 5 talk, which provided such an informative overview of the various options. I then scheduled a one-hour phone consult with Sarah, during which she talked me through a game plan and recommended the very best professionals to work with to achieve our educational goals. Sarah made this daunting process much more accessible and efficient. We are now in a good place in large part because of her guidance.

—Charlotte M.


Sarah was immensely helpful when I needed to make a hard decision about moving my son from a public ICT placement that clearly wasn’t working to a special education school that could fully support his learning disability and attention issues. She was very supportive, level-headed and helped me feel comfortable about the decision. She also helped me through the application process, which I cannot thank her enough for! The advice she gave in this area was spot on and he was offered a spot at our first-choice school. I would absolutely recommend Sarah to any family looking for support with their child’s education.

—Laura N.


Figuring out the best path forward for a child’s education is difficult, especially when your child has a learning disability. Sarah’s clearheaded advice and experience provided us with the guidance we needed to find the right place for our son to reach his full potential.

—Philip R.


Speaking as a parent with two special needs children, Sarah has been completely invaluable to me in navigating this often confusing and frustrating landscape. She is always available to offer advice, opinions and encouragement. I would have been lost without her!

—Meredith F.


Sarah’s Turning 5 talk made you feel like you weren’t so alone in navigating the complex world of special needs education in NYC. Armed with a treasure trove of knowledge, Sarah delivers a fantastic guide to everything a parent needs to know to start moving in the right direction to best advocate for their child. NYC special needs parents are lucky to have a resource in Sarah. Be sure to bring a notebook and a pen!

—Brian C.


I am so grateful that we went to Sarah Birnbaum’s Turning 5 talk and then worked privately with Sarah. Before meeting Sarah, the whole kindergarten transition process was confusing to us, and we had only the barest idea of how our son’s special needs would affect our process. Sarah laid out a clear picture of the special needs educational landscape and showed us exactly what we needed to do — and when — to get our son the support he needed.

While working with us, she was clear-eyed, informative, and always helpful. She gave us tips on what to expect and how to move through “the system,” recommended specialists to help with everything, gave us wonderful feedback on admissions essays, and advised us on the Turning 5 process. Thanks in large part to her help — and the help of the specialists she connected us with — we had the choice of multiple appropriate programs.

I know that without her help, we would have ended up undersupported, with services that weren’t right for our son at all. Instead, he is supported and thriving in kindergarten. I can’t say enough good things about Sarah! If you have a child with special needs and could use help navigating the educational system (what parent couldn’t??), I highly recommend working with Sarah.

—Emmeline C.


When I first found out my son had delays and would need special services, I was confused and disappointed. And when I began to learn about the process of educating a special needs child in NYC, I was enormously intimidated, to put it mildly. Attending Sarah’s lecture was not only vastly informative, it made me realize that we were not alone on our journey. She possesses great knowledge of how the system works, and she offers words of encouragement and empowerment to parents preparing to advocate for their children. Sarah’s lectures are like a beacon in a storm.

—Michael F.


I attended a talk about the Turning 5 process with Sarah Birnbaum and it was 110% worth my time. I not only feel empowered to tackle the complex NYC special education system, but also feel armed with powerful knowledge to get the right type of placement for my child.

—Erin S.


The Turning 5 process is not easy for parents of children with special needs. However, the information session led by Sarah Birnbaum really provides parents with an overview of what to expect and how we can become advocates for our children. I left feeling informed and empowered as a special needs parent.

—Jennifer S.


I cannot thank Sarah enough for her guidance and advice in navigating the world of special needs. Her advice was invaluable and I can honestly say that I don’t think my son would be at the school he attends had it not been for support and advice. She helped me evaluate school options on short notice as she knows them all! Her assistance on the application process and preparing for his IEP meeting was truly priceless. I can’t say enough good things and I will always be thankful to her as she has truly made a positive impact on my son, his life and his future. Thank you.

—Heather O.


While Sarah presents a Turning 5 talk that is chock full of essential information every NYC special needs parent needs to know – from schools and applications to timelines and legal rights – her most powerful and indispensable words come from the truth of having been in the trenches as a parent who just wants to do the best for her child. It’s one thing for the social worker, therapist, psychologist to offer support – but no one really knows what it’s like for a parent besides another one. I miraculously managed to hold back my tears during the talk, but when they do come (and I know there will be lots), I’ll refer to my notes and think of Sarah’s supporting words.

—Sheryl F.


A heartfelt thank you to Sarah for the wealth of info she shared at her Turning 5 talk, and for the kind words that a special needs parent almost never hears. She has made a meaningful difference for me and my child.

—Lily S.


Sarah’s workshops are absolutely essential for parents of a special needs child. She has a trove of information that is heartfelt, experienced and not found by online searches. I left much more confident that I understood how to be a better advocate for my child.

—Carol C.


I’m so glad that we were lucky enough to attend Sarah’s Turning 5 talk a few years ago. She gave very helpful information, offering tips to guide us smoothly through the Turning 5 process and even beyond. I constantly saw her at school open houses, asking as many questions as she could. She is just amazing, and I wish I had met her earlier. I was new to to the country, to NYC, and to special education, but very glad Sarah was there to help us!

—Rena W.


Sarah Birnbaum’s Turning 5 talk is a must! She gives so much intellectual artillery to plan out one of the most challenging processes in the special ed world. A two-hour FREE talk on the nitty gritty that others don’t address. I came out of the talk empowered and ready to take action!

—Nilda N.


Finding out that your son is not getting an appropriate education at his public school is a shock to the system. Navigating the world of special education is like entering a foreign country where they don’t speak your language. Sarah explained the subtext when talking to educators and administrators. She offers great ideas and approaches, leveraging her network and deep knowledge. She made me laugh when I could cry. She is my sounding board and someone I turn to when friends and parents can’t relate and your spouse is equally overwhelmed by the process.

—Jenny C.


Sarah is a wonderful, caring person and a tremendously insightful resource. She helped us navigate the process of finding the most appropriate education for our child. Because of her, we were well prepared when our daughter was diagnosed as dyslexic. She gave us insightful and practical advice on everything from neuropsychological evaluations, reading programs, dealing with the DOE and applying to special ed schools. She helped us become better advocates for our child.

—Kristen M. and David R.


We were referred to Sarah by a friend after feeling frustrated and completely overwhelmed by the convoluted CPSE process. Sarah’s guidance and detailed instructions not only enabled us to navigate the process with confidence but also put us in the best position to receive exactly the services we wanted. Sarah was a fountain of information – her advice was direct, specific and highly relevant. We cannot recommend her services enough!

—Jen K.


Sarah’s Turning 5 talk made a very difficult and complicated situation easier to understand and navigate. Her helpful tips and guidelines are the key to doing the best that you can for your child.

—Wendy G.


Sarah was an invaluable resource during our Turning 5 process. She was always available and provided us with excellent (and calming) advice. I would strongly recommend that anybody going through this process take advantage of her wealth of knowledge and experience.

—Rachel W.


An evening with Sarah was an evening well spent! She is a fountain of knowledge and, thanks to her, the Turning 5 process makes a lot more sense!

—Denise T.


I recently had the pleasure of attending Sarah’s talk on the Turning 5 process. It was an eye-opening experience and made me feel not only better prepared, but motivated to advocate for my child and put together a plan. Sarah’s clear and comprehensive advice, along with her perspective as a fellow parent, really resonated with me and made me feel reassured and supported.

—Rosa Y.


After attending Sarah’s presentation and taking notes, I followed her advice. I feel confident that advice led us to a truly appropriate program for my ASD daughter. Thanks, Sarah!

—Kathryn G.-A.


I was new to the special needs world and felt overwhelmed having to face the task of going through the CPSE process with my son. Sarah Birnbaum was a life saver! She was always available for support and not only was kind, smart and non-judgmental, but also direct and honest, which was what my family needed. We were given conflicting information from teachers and CPSE evaluators about my son, and she helped us figure out what he really needed. She seemed to “get” my son in a way others in the evaluation process did not! If it was not for Sarah’s guidance, my son would not have received the services he was entitled to, and would not be in the right school environment. She walked us through each step in the IEP process and gave us the tools necessary to advocate for him successfully during each meeting. Bottom line, Sarah knows the system and how to work within it to get your child’s needs met. When we have to face the Turning 5 process, I know that with Sarah’s help again we will be successful. My family is so grateful for Sarah Birnbaum!

—Suzanne K.


My advice to any and every parent of a child with any kind of special needs: Go to Sarah Birnbaum’s presentations. Make an appointment to speak with her. She explains with both precision and detail how special education works in NYC: not just an official version, but the real deal, which is the one you need to learn. An advocate parent herself, she is an amazing combination of expertise, insight, savvy and compassion. She is on top of what’s happening and also highly respected in this field by the experts because of the invaluable work she does with families. I only wish I had known about Sarah earlier!

—Viv N.


Sarah Birnbaum has been an invaluable resource for us as special needs parents, navigating the often overwhelming special needs options in NYC. She saved us countless hours upon hours of needless research and worry — and most importantly was a balanced, tactical and sensitive sounding board and steady cheerleader. Even after the first shocks, being a special needs parent can be a frightening and isolating experience, but thank goodness for Sarah. She was a lifeline to a community of families all in the same boat, and her recommendations were always spot-on. We eventually found that the combination of supports for our son were best found outside of NYC, but there’s no doubt that were we to move back to the city, our first call would be to Sarah.

—Dane and Julia J.


Sarah Birnbaum is an expert in the complex NYC special education world. She gives you the quality of guidance you get from an exclusive preschool, but it is tailored to the specific problems encountered for children needing extra support. I thought I was well-informed before hearing her talk, but I came away understanding that our family has so many more options than I knew. She helped me distill and prioritize what my child needs in his first years of school. I learned how better to ensure that my child thrives in school and in this world. One talk from Sarah Birnbaum likely changed the course of my child’s life.

—Cathy A.


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