Thank you so much for your presentation last night! It was the single most valuable and insightful talk I’ve been to on the subject of NYC schools serving those with special education needs.

—Davia D.

Sarah Birnbaum helped us a lot when we moved to NY with a 5 year old special needs boy. She guided us step by step through the school application process and the different professionals we needed to contact, and made sure we did everything on time. Sarah has great knowledge of all the special needs schools in NY; she explained the differences between them in terms of advantages of each school and the profile of kids each aim for. Sarah also got us in touch with parents of kids who go to the schools we were interested in, which was very helpful. We were very pleased with Sarah.

—Jasmine Z.

Sarah was referred to us by a university professor who highly respects her work to help guide us through the complicated New York special educational system. With her advice, support and assistance we were able to make an informed choice as to the best option for our son, confidently work through the process and be fully prepared for our meeting with the city. Our son is getting the services and most importantly the support he will need as he enters kindergarten to ensure that he has a successful first year at school.

—Katrina D.

I felt like I had been chasing my tail since December trying to find a kindergarten for my son and it hurt to watch him struggle through Pre-K. I went to all the DOE meetings, did all the right research, spent all my free time chasing the CPSE/CSE, all the “right” things. And in the end, I had gotten nowhere. Only nowhere, sad and with more questions and time running out. I’m sure most parents of children with special needs have reached a similar point of desperation and frustration.

Sarah Birnbaum not only helped me navigate these overwhelming tasks and find the right people to help us, she helped me feel in control and cared for — she was actually listening to me, amazing!! That was a real turning point for me, finally someone who can really help and understands how I feel. I regret not having worked with Sarah earlier in this process but I am so grateful for all we’ve accomplished. Next year my son will be attending kindergarten at a school that is perfect for him. He will be okay, he will be BETTER than okay. I can breathe again! My son needs me to be the strongest advocate I can be and I needed Sarah to become that person again. Thank you!

—Tessa D.

Sarah is…

The superwoman who comes in with laser-like precision to tackle ANY Turning 5 challenge.

The one who seeks the answer if she doesn’t have it.

The one who holds your hand and your heart in those moments when you feel you simply can do no more.

The intuitive cheerleader for you during one of the most challenging times of your child’s journey.

—Maria C.

We were very confident about our approach to our son’s application process. We thought we had all our ducks in a row, and felt that Sarah’s input would merely be an affirmation of our decisions. We were wrong! Sarah offered so much more than we could have imagined. She was such a good sounding board while we went through the application process and offered nuanced insight to the essays. She offered clear solutions to nebulous situations, and was always accessible. Most important, she really seemed to understand our son. And when things seemed to fall apart, Sarah rallied us and ensured that we persevered. In the end, our son was placed in a school that we considered an absolute long shot, one that we almost didn’t apply to because it seemed so out of reach. Without Sarah’s encouragement, advice and counsel we might never have been so successful!

—Rey B.

I wish I had known about Sarah Birnbaum sooner. We struggled all through EI, having no guidance or support, save friends and family as clueless as we were when it came to advocating for our son. It wasn’t until right before our CPSE transition meeting…The agency evaluating my son was terrible, and as usual I felt unsupported and confused. I was panicking, and someone suggested I give Sarah a call. She gave me great advice that helped turn that meeting around, as well as the outcome for my son. Then, I went to her Turning 5 talk. Then, I sent my husband. When I had questions about school applications, Sarah helped me through. She was so generous with her time. Knowing our limited means, she even, at times, dissuaded me from utilizing her services when it was unnecessary. Then, when my son was placed in our first choice school, I asked for advice about my friends in similar situations. Again, her words were wise, helpful and comforting. I’m so grateful that Sarah does what she does. There must be thousands of kids by now who are getting more appropriate educations because of her. Every interaction with Sarah has left me feeling more empowered and more educated.

—Kate L.

When it became clear our son needed an alternative school placement, we were overwhelmed with figuring out what the right place would be for him and how to even begin the process. I contacted several special ed advocates, but from the first second I spoke with Sarah, I knew I had found the right person. Sarah’s advice, honesty, knowledge, passion and advocacy have made the world of difference in helping us to find a school that is the best fit for our son and family. If you want someone on your side who truly understands the process of school placement for children who don’t fit into the regular ed classroom, and the struggles and triumphs that our families face, then call Sarah – you’ll be forever thankful that you did!

—Elaine C.

Sarah was an absolute life-saver for us. Mid-year, we learned abruptly that our son needed to find a special needs school for the following year. We contacted Sarah who made time for us immediately and quickly inserted us into the process by sending us to a school fair. It would have been completely overwhelming had not Sarah guided us on how best to approach it, including registering ahead of the event and which schools to visit. This first interaction was indicative of the entire process; we always felt like Sarah was giving us top priority and sound, actionable, non-dramatic advice. She was by our side through the entire process, helping to hone our overall approach and making the applications themselves doable and even fun. Sarah is a pleasure to work with who promptly and thoroughly responds and is an objective sounding board, able to hear concerns and provide that space to consider options. It is with the highest regard, respect and gratitude that we recommend Sarah and her services to parents during their special needs education journey.

—Elizabeth W.

I cannot speak highly enough of Sarah and the support and guidance she provided for our family throughout the CPSE and CSE process. Having a special needs child is a unique challenge on its own, but navigating applications, schools, and the DOE adds a second layer of complexity. There are so many questions that come up during the application process to both pre-school and kindergarten, but not a single one stumped Sarah. I have never encountered someone more knowledgeable about the NYC special needs world than Sarah. She was also incredibly responsive – whether text, email, or phone, Sarah was always accessible and available. Quite frankly, I don’t know how we would have survived the past few years without her valuable help!

—Katie H.

I first heard Sarah’s name at a parents’ support group and made a note. Then, I attended her “Life after EI” seminar and I made a call. Sarah demystified the terrifying CPSE process, and clearly illuminated the essential steps and actions we needed to take to advocate for our son. Sarah has been tremendously helpful in coaching our family, from suggesting preschools to tour to literally role playing our IEP meeting. She prepared us for what to expect, how to navigate the system and introduced us to key resources and incredibly talented professionals. And she also helped facilitate a very difficult situation that we were facing during the process. What inspires me most about Sarah, besides her intelligence, expertise, dedication and compassion, is her unwavering optimism. It is impossible to feel despair in Sarah’s presence. I will always be grateful for her support and wholeheartedly recommend Sarah to any parents who are seeking special ed consulting services.

—Marli M.

We cannot thank Sarah enough for all her invaluable advice and support. It has been a great comfort knowing that we’ve had someone so experienced and knowledgeable to reach out to during this important time in our child’s life. Transitioning from EI, to CPSE, to CSE is an overwhelming and consuming process. While basic things may be explained to you as you go along, without a caring personal consultant such as Sarah, we would never have been as informed as we were. She provided us with a real insight into the process, helping us to stay on track and focused, which in turn, enabled us to prioritize the right needs for our child and family.

—Sophie E.

As a parent of a special needs child, you sometimes feel lost in a sea of bureaucracy. I feel as though Sarah was a steady ship guiding us through the choppy waters of the Turning 5 process. Her advice helped us choose an appropriate evaluator who in turn helped us get the school placement that our son so desperately needed. For that we are eternally grateful.

—Sara M.

Sarah Birnbaum is one of the best advocates I have ever met. It’s an extraordinary process to go through the Turning 5 process, and to know someone is at your side is an amazing relief. The process is like a maze and Sarah helps you get through it. She will provide you with all the information you need and be there until you attain your goal. Sarah also helped guide me through the process of improving my child’s CPSE services. Her knowledge is current and expanisve. She is honest, straightforward and empathic. She has a long list of clients but always finds time for you. Believe me, with Sarah you are not alone and her prices are reasonable. I love her and I don’t know where I would be without her encouragement. The system is so complex and nuanced and it’s impossible to figure it out. With Sarah, I just did what she told me and it worked!!

—Liz R.

I am extremely grateful for the advice I’ve been given by Sarah. I have felt lost at sea with much of the CPSE process, and being able to ask someone who not only has been through it all herself, but who also has solid answers has felt like a life raft. I attended a talk given by Sarah, and very much appreciated her straightforward style and the honest way she shares information. On a more personal level, she gave voice to many of the thoughts that have been rolling around in my head ever since my son got his diagnosis. And it was extremely comforting to know that I am not alone with my worries and anxieties, and that most parents in my situation are feeling the same things. Sarah is passionate about what she does, and it clearly shows.

—Jennifer B.

I attended Sarah’s presentation on “Life after EI.” It was a very comprehensive presentation, discussing all the services that our children need. Sarah’s knowledge and experience in going through this process is invaluable. Her concrete examples and knowledge of service providers in this field were also extremely useful. Above all, Sarah came across as a mother of a child with special needs, just like all of us, truly willing to share her experience and knowledge so that our own experiences will be as smooth as possible; she is definitely an amazing person to meet!

—Diane H.

I am so grateful for the help and advice I received from Sarah Birnbaum. During our initial conversation, I was so impressed with her depth of knowledge. She knew something about every school I was interested in, and had many excellent insights about the schools and their philosophies. Sarah asked great questions that helped guide my answers as I wrote the applications, enabling me to present a full and complete picture of my son. This aided tremendously in getting a successful placement at a great school. Sarah was also extremely helpful on the administration side. She did all of this in a very timely manner. Overall, I would rate Sarah’s service as invaluable.

—Shari F.

Sarah was a godsend to my wife, youngest daughter and me. Facing a move from Singapore to New York for work, we were overwhelmed with the complexity of what we needed to do to find the right schooling option for our daughter. With Sarah’s help, our transition to New York was much smoother than we could have expected; her advice and counsel was invaluable as we sought to find the right educational environment for our daughter. Sarah is a kind hearted, warm and generous soul, and she knows what she is talking about! We cannot recommend Sarah enough to any parent looking for help guiding their way around the Special Needs educational system in New York. Our daughter is settled, happy and confident in her school environment, and we know that would not have been possible without Sarah’s help and guidance.

—Paul & Debbie R.

Sarah Birnbaum not only knows everything about navigating the Deptartment of Education, she knows how to speak to the hearts of parents of children with special needs. As a parent of a child on the spectrum, I appreciated her kind and yet no-nonsense manner and her passion for helping families. She advises on everything from different school programs to which app you can download to organize yourself. Your anxious heart will be much calmer after listening to her.

—Mary F.

We have been working with a myriad of professionals over the past two years, but Sarah was the one who knew more overall about the process of securing services and applying to schools, and the special needs world in general. She was able to offer a clear overview of all the steps in the process from beginning to end, and especially at the many points where we received conflicting information. We are thrilled with our daughter’s improvement and the school she now attends. Without Sarah’s help, none of this would have gone as well. I would tell any parent of a child with special needs to work with Sarah without hesitation.

—Dannielle T.

Sarah did an amazing job not only with hand-holding, but in dispensing savvy advice and providing context about the school application process — invaluable. Knowledge and preparation are power, and Sarah helped with both. As I am a single mom with few (receptive) people to bounce ideas of off, Sarah also served as a much-needed sounding board, which is critical when you’re trying to get the services your child needs. No, you’re not imagining things; yes, your concerns are valid and the actions you’re undertaking are justified. It’s just a huge help.

—Kate G.

This week I watched my son smile so big as he boarded the bus to his first day at kindergarten — and I couldn’t stop smiling either. Finally, he’s at an appropriate school with the supports he needs, among peers and pros that not only “get” but value him for who he is. We never would have gotten here without Sarah.

Because our son’s diagnosis came midway through his pre-K year, we were immediately under huge pressure to dive into the Turning 5 process while also trying to secure CPSE services — without even having time to learn what all these acronyms even mean (and with a new baby thrown into the mix). From our first free phone call, Sarah got right to work, offering a list of action items and resources that made the daunting seem suddenly doable. She continued to be an invaluable “tour guide” through the next several months of our initiation into the world of special-needs parenting.

Beyond providing very valuable knowledge and support when I needed it most, Sarah has also given me something I didn’t even expect: the tools to help me evolve into a gutsy “mama bear” on behalf of my son. Thanks again for your role in getting my whole family to a place where we now look forward to — rather than fear — what’s ahead.

—Mary H.

We have been strong advocates for our son for years, and to be honest, at the beginning of this whole process I had doubts about needing outside help. But after his services were reduced and his progress stalled, I realized that this was something we couldn’t do on our own. The Turning 5 process was just about the most difficult and complicated thing we have ever done, but we always had Sarah to answer all our questions. We also just love her positive and supportive attitude; she has been a lifesaver. Our son has now started kindergarten in exactly the program we wanted for him and is getting the exact help that he needs. We attribute this success to Sarah’s help: we absolutely could not have done it without her guidance, kind words and encouragement.

—Margret V.

I felt so overwhelmed when this process began, and I could not be more happy now. Thanks so much for your help and know that what you do touches lives every day.

—Barbara L.

Sarah has been a wonderful support to me. As I have navigated my way through the stressful process of having to choose a school for my daughter, she often checked in with me to see how I was doing and answered any question I had for her. Sarah’s words were nothing but encouraging and kept me motivated throughout my journey. Thank you Sarah.

—Alyceson R.

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