Testimonials

Having a kid with special needs is impossible for even the most savvy parent. We all come into this baffled by the process. Sarah is a terrific sounding board, reality check and straight talker. She helped me navigate/strategize IEPs, preschool and kindergarten. I highly recommend her!

—Michelle C.


Working with Sarah was very empowering. She is compassionate and firm, and is such a wealth of resources. I was in the process of transitioning from Early Intervention to CPSE when I contacted her. It all seemed so overwhelming, and having Sarah to help me navigate it was truly a blessing. She broke down the process into steps. Sarah provided as much guidance and help as I needed at each stage. “You have to know what you want, before you can get what you want.” That is what she told me during our first conversation. This made me more confident in the decisions I had to make and taught me how to be a better advocate for my child. I definitely felt empowered knowing Sarah was my coach and cheerleader. Working with Sarah has been truly wonderful. She encourages, advises and guides you but she never takes over the decision making. You are your child’s best advocate, and she really does her best to make sure you know that, too.

—Mei A.


Having a child with special needs can be a nightmare unless you have an angel like Sarah Birnbaum to guide you through the morass of bureaucracy and legal complexities inherent in New York City’s special education system. We were wholly unfamiliar with the IEP process and came to Sarah late in the school year with the goal to get an IEP approved on an expedited basis. She was extremely knowledgeable and worked diligently with a sincere heart to guide us through the CPSE process. She identified a top-notch agency that could perform the evaluations quickly and kept us focused on securing our CPSE packet after it got lost in a sea of red tape. With her expert advice and guidance, we arrived fully prepared for the IEP meeting and respectfully presented the strongest case for our son. We were thrilled with the outcome and owe both our success and our peace of mind to Sarah. We unequivocally recommend Sarah’s advocacy services to any family with a special needs child.

—Melissa D.


We are eternally thankful for Sarah and her expert and thoughtful advice, guidance, encouragement and support. She has been an incredible resource and sanity saver. Sarah is diligent, thorough, incredibly knowledgeable and compassionate. Not only does she know the ins and outs of the special needs world, but she has been an advocate and champion for our family and son during the Turning 5 process. We would have been hopelessly lost without her. Thank you, Sarah, for all that you do, from the bottom of our hearts!

—Tiffany C.


We had a late start with Early Intervention, and by the time my daughter started to receive services, she was approaching her 3rd birthday. So we had to dive right into the CPSE process. At a time when I was feeling completely overwhelmed, Sarah’s talk on Transitioning from EI to CPSE cleared many question marks and provided us with the roadmap to find our way through the complexities of the CPSE system. She had great feedback on specific agencies and schools, and her talk was filled with personal experiences and anecdotes from families she has worked with which made it all very concrete and relatable. Sarah was also gracious enough to respond to all the follow-up questions and even e-mails. I can not recommend her strongly enough to anyone trying to maneuver through the CPSE process.

—Asli P.


On the day I attended Sarah’s free Turning 5 workshop a full year ago, I was totally overwhelmed by the enormity of the cost, time, and complexity of the task in front of us in helping our daughter find placement in an appropriate setting. Because of Sarah’s generosity in sharing information, our journey was kickstarted with a list of schools to tour, questions to ask, resources and much more, all in a document I referred to on a constant basis. Our journey took a year of countless tours, applications, tests, meetings and school visits, and thankfully, acceptances at two good programs. When we were in the final stretch making a decision, Sarah was there for us again, sharing a depth of knowledge to help us make the right choice. We are deeply indebted to her for providing the information and resources we found nowhere else. I really don’t know how we would have navigated this process without her. Thank you, Sarah!

—Heather K.


Sarah Birnbaum provided me with a a level of advocacy and support that surpassed all my expectations. She served as an expert guide and guided me through the entire process. The Turning 5 process is one of the most important events in the creation of a good educational program for a student with special needs. It can be confusing, scary, and frustrating; Sarah is a calm, informative voice through the process. She is a valuable resource for any parent looking to find the best options for their child’s educational needs. I am so thankful to have Sarah as someone I can turn to for good advice that will benefit my child.

—Lark L.


I was feeling lost and overwhelmed by the transition from CPSE to CSE until I discovered Sarah Birnbaum. I attended her Turning 5 presentation which was such a comprehensive overview and helped clarify the process. I also benefited from her individual consultation that was so valuable as she has a wealth of knowledge about CSE, your rights, recommendations of advocacy resources, and options for school programs. I am so grateful for Sarah’s guidance and support through this daunting process.

—Celeste G.


I had heard of Sarah through some other mom friends and was told she was fantastic. I went to one of her lectures and saw first hand just how wonderful she is. Sarah was extremely insightful and helpful in a world that is so difficult to navigate and understand. Her knowledge is unparalleled and I’m so glad I have her in my network.

—Kelly L.


As a mother of a soon to be 5 year old and starting the journey with CSE, I knew very little about this topic and was feeling a great sense of anxiety. Other than having an outline of the process from my daughters’ preschool, I found that after attending Sarah’s Turning 5 Talk, she completely filled in the blanks. Sarah had such an insight on this topic and was so amazing with her words that I became very emotional. I came out of the meeting with a sense of knowledge and empowerment. As Sarah says, knowledge is power and she’s absolutely correct. I highly recommend every parent hear what Sarah has to say.

—Carrie R.


Our child has special needs and I knew he needed a specialized school program appropriate for his needs. We visited over two dozen programs and the process was overwhelming. After visiting and seeing all the schools, I was pretty sure which were appropriate for my son, but I was so overwhelmed and burnt out by the process and I needed help. I needed one-to-one direction from an expert on the next steps and this is when I decided to call Sarah. She suggested a few other programs that I had overlooked and helped confirm my impressions. When it came time to make a decision, once again I was overwhelmed. Sarah was able to provide over a dozen parent contacts to talk to. I was able to have honest conversations with many parents, which helped tremendously. Sarah has an extensive list of contacts and knowledge that is hard to find in one single place. I highly recommend Sarah Birnbaum.

—Debra L.


I started working with Sarah Birnbaum in February 2014 when I called her feeling frustrated that my son was not making any progress. I felt helpless and lost. She immediately took me under her wing, educating me on how to secure appropriate services for my son. I wish I had consulted with Sarah sooner, when my child was in Early Intervention. I wanted to believe that he was receiving the appropriate services when he transitioned to CPSE, but I realized that I had discontinued services that would have helped him, and we worked hard to reinstate those services. When I felt discouraged, Sarah was like chicken soup for the soul. She was not vague and her clarity and recommendations kept me on track. She helped me not to feel intimidated by the process and connected me to people who could help, and we ultimately achieved our goals. Sarah made it clear what she could and could not do, and was often modest about being a luxury. I disagree. Sarah is a necessity. She provides essential feedback for every parent with a child in EI, preschool special education and school age. She is not just an advocate, she is a parent and incredibly empathetic. I would have not been connected to the appropriate sources if it had not been for her knowledge and expertise. I love Sarah, and I recommend her to every parent in New York City. She is a must have.

—Candy B.


Sarah was at our side throughout the entire process of researching and speaking with schools for our son and was quite helpful. She was supportive and knowledgeable and kept us focused. A consummate professional. We would certainly recommend Sarah to anyone who finds themselves in a similar search.

—Ron B.


Sarah Birnbaum was a terrific resource for our family as we navigated applying to special education programs. Her in-depth knowledge of the various schools available and the application process helped us to decide which school would provide the best program for our son. We really appreciated that Sarah helped us work through the challenging process of applying to special education programs by giving us straightforward advice and a ton of insightful information. We recommend her highly if you are thinking about or starting the process of applying to special education programs.

—Cynthia L.


When my son went through the Turning 5 process, I left no stone unturned and visited more than 40 schools. When the school we selected didn’t work out, I was lost and didn’t have the time or mental energy to go through that extensive process again. Fate led me to run into Sarah at a school tour, and I turned to her for help. Sarah helped me to quickly identify which schools would and would not be a good fit for my son and to navigate the application and CSE process from start to finish. She is a lifesaver!

—Depelsha M.


We would not be where we are without Sarah. Our journey is nowhere near over, but at least we now have a sense of direction and where/how to find what we need. Sarah genuinely cares, knows how to empower your advocacy, and is disciplined enough to keep YOU prepared even when you want to drag your feet with what you need to do. With her help for the past three years since EI, we were able to secure what my son needs, could plan for what comes next much in advance, and could stomach all the challenges much more easily. At every opportunity, I refer Sarah to my acquaintances in the same situation, and I will continue to do so, so that she can improve many more children’s lives!

—Julie B.


Sarah is an amazing resource. Last December, I was feeling like I couldn’t possibly get through the application process for my son and simultaneously complete a separate application process for my daughter, but Sarah provided the necessary calm, supportive encouragement that I needed. In addition, Sarah gave me brilliant insight into the admissions process that I would not have otherwise been privy to. Early on, Sarah explained that my description of my child might yield a negative interpretation by admissions staff and as I reflected, I realized that this insight made her worth every penny. I highly recommend Sarah for any parent with a special needs child weighing NYC educational options.

—Brenda L.


I would recommend Sarah Birnbaum’s services to anyone seeking guidance in navigating the confusing and intimidating world of special needs education. Advocating for my son was a stressful process, especially because we did not know where to begin. Working with a professional like Sarah was an eye-opening experience and one of the best decisions we have ever made. She was patient, kind, personable, extremely knowledgeable and made us feel secure throughout our process. Sarah knows the ins and outs of NYC’s special needs world, and her supportive guidance helped us to confidently advocate for our son and secure all the best possible opportunities for him. Today, my son is happy and is receiving the best therapeutic and educational support needed to succeed — he is in the hands of some of best therapists and educators in NYC. Our success story would not have been possible without Sarah’s supportive guidance.

—Janet H.


At a time in my life when I was desperate and devastated, just after my son’s dyslexia diagnosis, I had the great fortune of being introduced to Sarah Birnbaum. Working with Sarah is like working with a great friend who happens to be really really smart, quite funny and most importantly who happens to be an expert on navigating the frustratingly confusing system that is special ed in NYC. Sarah has given me stellar advice when nobody in my life knew what I was talking about or dealing with. She has talked me off a ledge many times and somehow made me laugh while doing it. Thank you Sarah!

—Jill P.


Sarah makes sense of an incredibly frustrating, nonsensical system. She is like a personal guide through the rabbit hole. I had already spoken with other experts, but they didn’t help with placement. So without Sarah’s advice on schools, placement procedures, tips and ideas, I would have been lost. I cannot thank Sarah enough for her passion, enthusiasm and incredible knowledge. She is an angel.

—Bridget B.


I cannot speak highly enough about Sarah. She helped us find a clear path to finding the right school for our son, from recommending a great evaluator to helping us navigate the school search process. Sarah was beyond helpful in easing my anxiety and exasperation at every turn and was always available and supportive. It was a great relief to have someone to talk to who knows all the ropes and has been there done that! Our family cannot thank her enough.

—Sandra L.


Meeting Sarah was one of the best things to happen to us as we attempted to navigate the special ed system in New York City. Prior to meeting her, we really didn’t know what we were doing and ended up being denied Early Intervention. A parent to a special ed student referred us to Sarah and she immediately took charge and helped us through the CPSE process. Her suggestions and ideas were spot on and helped us to secure the necessary resources that our son needed. She helped us again when it came time for the Turning 5 process, and we are thrilled with the outcome and even more excited about the incredible progress our son has made.

—Bisrat A.


I remember when I received the phone call from Early Intervention and was told that I had a “special needs child.” I recall thinking, “I got this,” and that I would do everything I could to help my son, but then I realized that this is something that can’t be done alone. However, there’s no guidebook, but there is Sarah! Everyone’s situation is unique and personal. Sarah listens with her heart. She is understanding and compassionate but she also has the experience and wealth of knowledge to guide you! I have relied on Sarah at different points in my journey. From meeting advice, to tutors and other resources to specialized schools. My son would not be where he is today without her assistance. Her wealth of knowledge is vast, and if she doesn’t know, she will find out for you or point you in the direction of someone who can help. Words cannot express how grateful I am to have found her.

—Maureen K.


I was so impressed with the bounty of useful information I received from Sarah at her Turning 5 talk in Fall 2014 that I immediately contacted her for a series of consultations over the past 9 months that have recently culminated in my daughter’s placement in the school of our choice. Sarah consistently responded to all emails promptly and answered thoroughly and thoughtfully every question I had, or recommended someone to call if she didn’t know the answer. I’m so grateful for her broad base of information and contacts throughout this challenging process. Without hesitation, I would recommend that Sarah be a central part of every family’s special needs team.

—Chris S.


If my daughter didn’t already have a Godmother, I would have asked Sarah to do me the honor. She has been a part of our life since Early Intervention at age 2 and has been with us ever since. Most recently, I was at my wits’ end; I wasn’t sure of all my options for schools and I felt a bit overwhelmed. It seemed like no one else was going to be able to help me as my child’s fifth birthday was approaching; boy, was I wrong. With Sarah’s guidance, I was able to better understand my options and make an informed decision, with her recommendation under serious consideration of course. I am very thankful for Sarah. She knows her business, and is the utmost professional, but what is more impressive is her level of compassion; for her that seems like standard operating procedure. It goes without saying that I would recommend her to anyone if they ever needed her services.
—Murielle H.


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