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.

—Lisa F.

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.

—Joanne V.

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!

—Bielka C.

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.

—Scott B.

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!

—Shari P.

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.

—Mary C.

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.

—Maria P.

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.

—June C.

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.

—Marina G.

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.

—Tanya D.

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.

—Jean K.

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.

—John R.

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!

—Kelly G.

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.

—Gabriela S.

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.

—Caroline B.

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.

—Pam S.

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.

—Vanessa D.

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.

—Linda C.

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!

—Jeff B.

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!

—Abby L.

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!!

—Meghan M.

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