I recently attended Sarah’s Turning 5 information session. Sarah provided all of us with an excellent overview that was easy to understand. She is truly an amazing resource and I am truly grateful to Sarah for all that I learned. In addition, her handout is extremely helpful. I walked away with a targeted to-do list and a plan of action.

—Shallini M.

As a family living abroad when we found out that our son had special needs, we felt at a loss in terms of navigating the NYC educational landscape. Encountering Sarah was an incredible gift to us. Although we never met personally, she oriented us in the process of identifying schools that might be suitable for our son, gave us feedback about different aspects of the CPSE/CSE process, and always did so in the right measure and at the right time. Sarah is attentive, responsive, straightforward and extremely knowledgeable. Most importantly, she only gives you what you need: that is, we never felt that she was, in any way, trying to sell us her services beyond what we needed. In this day and age, that’s a very important quality to have. We highly recommend Sarah to any parent that is trying to figure out what’s best for their child.

—Edith A.

When you are in doubt, just ask Sarah. It was one of the best decisions I have made to attend one of Sarah’s talks on that one cold winter night. She knows the process, the schools, the current climate and most importantly, she knows what’s best for your child in the long run and she will help you get there. She understands your stories and knows the very specific needs. We worked very closely together with her during the entire CPSE transition process and are extremely happy with the result. It would have been impossible without her.

—Ilana L.

A wealth of knowledge! Sarah Birnbaum’s kindergarten talk is a must! With compassion and empathy, Sarah distills years of research and personal experience into a step-by-step strategy for parents navigating the often overwhelming world of special education in NYC.

—Carolyn C.

When I began the Turning 5 process, some one year before my son even turned 5, I was totally lost. Finding the right school for my son was critical to me and as much reading as I did, I still had no direction. I came upon Sarah’s name through happenstance and after the first 30 minutes of speaking to her, I knew she was a wealth of information that I needed to tap into. After leaving her Turning 5 talk, I had a road map from a source I instantly trusted. I truly took heed of all her advice and toured a dozen schools so that when I needed to make the decision as to which one could truly best fit my son, it was actually an easy one since I had done so much of the legwork. The school we have chosen, and which has chosen us, I am very excited about and I know I can expect great things from it. I say it is a must to consult with Sarah well in advance of Turning 5 so you can be educated and informed and find the best educational setting for your child.

—Camille F.

After some early disappointments with our kindergarten search, my husband and I went back to the drawing board to learn more about NYC’s Turning 5 process. Serendipitously, I came across information about an upcoming Turning 5 talk that Sarah was leading. Attending her talk was a watershed moment for my husband and me; we finally found clarity and direction in our search and realized that until then, we had been misguided. She gave a thorough, in-depth presentation on the ins and outs of navigating multiple, complicated systems — the biggest of all, the NYC DOE — and provided clear tactical action items and strategies. Coming out of that presentation, we knew two things: 1) we needed to activate the proper next steps and most importantly, 2) that we would need help. Naturally, we reached out to Sarah for an initial consultation and haven’t looked back since. She is a core member of our family team and was essential in helping us navigate every step of the way. She guided us through which schools we should visit — across the entire spectrum of options — so that we would understand the varied options. She helped to tailor that list based on a combination of information, of which included her own direct experience and in working with families. She was instrumental in helping us prepare for our Turning 5 meeting; we followed her advice and I’m proud to say that we were able to receive everything we asked for and more. I wholly attribute that to Sarah’s coaching and guidance. If you’re looking for an experienced, knowledgeable, honest and empathetic special needs expert, then look no further, Sarah is the best person to have on your team.

—Catherine A.

If you have a child with special needs and you need help advocating for your child, there’s no better resource to help you navigate the ins and outs of New York’s special needs education process than Sarah Birnbaum. Sarah works tirelessly to help parents get through the arduous process of the NY City school system for kids with special needs. She’s well-versed, articulate, well-connected and has a deep passion for helping parents. It’s as if your child is hers. She herself has been through it and that’s how how she can feel empathy. It’s a complicated and at times highly emotional process and she is truly your champion.

In addition, Sarah understands the DOE, she has a network of parents and special education professionals that she can reach out to on your behalf for extra support. Everyone knows Sarah. She has a great reputation in the community that includes and is not limited to admissions directors, health professionals, neuropsychologists and other experts.

What I admire the most about Sarah is that she treats you like a friend. I feel comfortable to speak to her about any matter regarding my child. To say she has helped my child is an understatement. As a mother who’s been through hell and back with a child who was born extremely premature, I regard Sarah as my angel. She has given me, my daughter and my husband some spare wings to fly. Don’t hesitate to call her for advice small or large, you won’t regret it.

—Maria L.

Even a strong parent advocate needs a support team and I found that in Sarah. She is a fountain of knowledge/resources as well as a collaborative strategizing partner and, best of all, personal cheerleader!

—Ann L.

I went into the Turning Five process with no direction, just knowing from people before me that it’s a big and scary ride, but I had no idea where to start and what to look out for. After I went to Sarah’s workshops, I had a battle plan! I stuck close to it, keeping all the little tips and warnings in my head, as well as passing them on to other people who were on the same path. And then on the final stretch, when I got nervous about taking the right steps or messing things up at the last minute, Sarah’s help made all the difference! She guided me through what calls to make (or not to make), what door to knock and when, and how to interpret the things that were going on. She always got back to my questions super-fast with practical advice, and because of her help I felt secure in what to do. Everything worked out great in the end and we can’t wait to start kindergarten next month. Thank you Sarah for your calmness and knowledge — and for reminding me to keep my humor and take a breath in between. You made a huge difference to the outcome of our case — and to the state of my nerves during the process!!

—Maren K.

Sarah Birnbaum is an intelligent and passionate special needs advocate. Her words and expertise were instrumental in the transition from EI to CPSE. In a place where one can feel overwhelmed with questions and decisions, Sarah was there to guide us through the process; she prepared me to get not only the appropriate school but services for my son. She was pleasant and caring from the very first conversation.

—Jasmin A.

Sarah is a top-notch expert on special needs schools in NYC. I attended two of her lectures, which were absolutely invaluable to my family. Navigating through Early Intervention, CPSE, and CSE programs can be extremely daunting. Sarah was the main source of information for ours and many other families as to how to get the most out the system. Her information opened a lot of doors for us which helped us to put our kid in a comfortable environment. When we started looking for a CPSE school, many therapists and parents recommended schools that catered to high-functioning autism. Sarah, on the other hand, emphasized placement in a classroom where kids were similar to mine. That advice really worked out for us. Besides her vast knowledge, Sarah is an excellent speaker and has a vast network of parents, experts, and school administrators at her disposal. As a parent I would highly recommend her lectures and expertise to any special needs family.

—Sam M.

My husband and I met Sarah when our son was about to age out of EI and we needed to find a good preschool for children with special needs. We were immediately impressed with her knowledge base, systems savvy and genuine compassion for our situation. Her knowledge and guidance were instrumental in helping us negotiate the transition from EI to CPSE. We used her again when struggling with home-based services for our son after preschool and most recently in the daunting and overwhelming Turning Five process. We cannot say enough good things about Sarah and feel indebted to her for helping us find some of the best services and supports for our son. If you are struggling with the insanity of the special needs systems in NYC, there is no one we can recommend more than Sarah Birnbaum.

—Elena S.

How do I express how much Sarah Birnbaum has meant to me and my family over these past few years? Sarah has helped us navigate a complicated system and get our son the best preparation and education possible. We had just returned to New York City after being overseas for six years, and my two-year-old son was showing signs of special needs. Although I am a native New Yorker, I was unfamiliar with the NYC special education system and found myself quickly overwhelmed, even though I had already contacted Early Intervention. Being in the EI system was not enough. I needed so much more one-on-one help in coordinating my son’s care and therapy, and figuring out the appropriate preschool program for his needs.

Enter Sarah Birnbaum. With my very first call to her, I knew that she was the right person. She helped us navigate the system of special needs, gave us advice on what schools were the best for my son’s specific special needs, helped me with paperwork and preparation for EI and CPSE meetings, and connected me to her huge network of parents, specifically those who had been in similar situations as mine and were willing to share their advice. Because of Sarah’s efforts, my son received the best therapies at home, then attended a special needs preschool that met his needs perfectly. Because of this support, he eventually tested and got into a NYC public school system Gifted and Talented program for Kindergarten! If that’s not a success story, I don’t know what is. And we couldn’t have done it without Sarah.

I wish the parents reading this testimonial right now to know that you are not alone. We parents are right there with you, and wish you the very best. And Sarah Birnbaum is one of the very best.

—Jen W.

Prior to being introduced to Sarah, we had Early Intervention meetings that felt like we were being taken advantage of and there was very little choice we had but to take what was given to us. After meeting with Sarah and taking her advice to heart, we properly prepared for our next EI meetings and, following that, CPSE meetings. The outcome was going from an unacceptably small amount of services with low-quality therapists to winning a truly appropriate quantity of services and being connected with the highest quality providers in our neighborhood. This came with a fair amount of hard work for me and my wife but we followed the steps Sarah laid out and got the full outcome we were seeking.

—Brad C.

Finding Sarah was the best thing I did for my child’s education and my personal sanity! Since I first met Sarah at one of her seminars more than four years ago, she has been a constant “go to” for the RIGHT information. While there are various associations, schools, and websites out there, Sarah saved me hours of time in vetting and narrowing in on exactly where I should spend my time and resources. Navigating the path of a child with special needs can be an overwhelming process. The comfort that I have found in knowing Sarah would be there for emails and phone calls was invaluable. There is no one else out there like her. I have and will continue to highly recommend her to other parents!

—Ursula C.

Sarah had unlimited resources to guide us through the whole Turning 5 process. She has a remarkable ability to make this complicated and stressful process simple and easy to navigate. Being a mom herself, she feels our pain and struggles. She is always on our side. She read every single word of our son’s school progress reports, and her judgment on our son’s strengths and areas to work on was phenomenal. Hence, our son got the most appropriate education setting for kindergarten. As she put it so nicely, “We want our children to thrive and not just survive.” We will always be grateful for her support, guidance and kindness.

—Sophie T.

Reading through all of these testimonials, we will boldly and loudly reiterate every last one of them. However, while Sarah counsels with profound perspective, laser-like precision to cut through the mounds of red tape, and a true understanding of what it’s like for the parents, she does so with a real sense of compassion and humor that was immensely comforting. Now when I hear of parents looking for special education programs and resources, my first comment is “Just Call Sarah.” We are immensely grateful for her work.

—Brian M.

I attended one of Sarah’s early-bird seminars for the Turning 5 Process. When I first registered, I didn’t really believe it would take up the full two hours it was scheduled for, as I assumed there couldn’t be that much information. Well, I was wrong! It was the best, most informative seminar I have ever been to. Sarah was knowledgeable, warm, and extremely helpful. She provided handouts, and broke down every part of the turning 5 process, giving all possible options of what a parent can expect and look forward to. I knew exactly where my son should be for kindergarten and felt completely prepared, rather than overwhelmed and defeated, when the school semester approached. He has now been accepted to the ASD Nest intensive K program, a program I learned about in Sarah’s seminar. I recommend this seminar for every special needs parent. It is a must to attend! Thank you Sarah!

—Jessica R.

Sarah was incredibly helpful throughout the Turning 5 process. At each turn she knew exactly which steps to take, who to call and had the best recommendations for us. We would wholeheartedly recommend Sarah to anyone with a special needs child.

—Susan R.

Sarah not only met, but exceeded our expectations in her very detailed knowledge and experience of the Turning 5 process. She is warm and welcoming at the same time as being fiercely intelligent and empowering. We were so fortunate to have had Sarah in our corner during this process. She took the time to explain even the smallest details which she did not want us to miss. We wholeheartedly recommend Sarah Birnbaum to any family going through the Turning 5 process. You want her in your corner!

—Dina and Stu B.

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