Our son went through the evaluation process in kindergarten, when it became clear he wasn’t adjusting well to his public school classroom. My husband and I were completely new to the world of special needs, and felt completely lost and overwhelmed as to how the evaluation process worked and what types of services we could expect and push for. Sarah was an incredible touchstone. She explained all our options very clearly and helped us set definitive goals. She felt like a guide leading us through an uncharted wilderness, laying out the map and explaining the pros and cons of each path. She helped us put our son’s problems and anxieties into context, so we could better advocate for him. She gave us contacts and references.

But more than that, Sarah seemed to really “get” our son, and to genuinely care about our situation. She was very no-nonsense in her explanations and advice, and behind her exhaustive knowledge and experience in the special education world is someone who genuinely cares about making sure that children are given the tools and circumstances they need to learn. Our son was placed in another public school which has a program specifically tailored for his needs – our top choice!

—Cameron L.

Sarah helped us feel confident going into our IEP meeting. Her advice was invaluable, and she went above and beyond to insure that we were thoroughly prepared to advocate on our son’s behalf. She reviewed our documents in a thorough and reasoned way and proposed a realistic set of strategies for us to achieve our goals. Sarah also helped explain some of the grey areas of the CPSE process, which helped provide us with some peace of mind. Navigating the process of acquiring services for our special needs kid was more daunting than we could ever have imagined. However, with Sarah’s support we were able to clearly lay out our wants for our son to the CPSE administrator, and her guidance was an essential factor in our successful efforts to acquire all the services we were looking to get for our child. We recommend her wholeheartedly.

—Craig W.

At the beginning of our journey, all roads led to Sarah. She was mentioned or recommended by at least three people we spoke to as we tried to figure out the first steps to take in handling the special needs of our son. Her help in person, by phone, in email and through her lectures was invaluable. Calling her an encyclopedia of knowledge is true but only half the story, because the human element is just as important as information, and Sarah provides both with the decisive grace parents need in starting to climb this mountain step by step. We couldn’t recommend her more heartily.

—Peter and Lisa G.

When I came to Sarah Birnbaum, I was desperate to find an appropriate placement for my son. She made me aware of all the options and helped me put a plan into action. Sarah is very knowledgeable about the special needs programs and knows all the key players. When it was time to write applications, she helped me with an eye to what the schools were looking for. All along, she was understanding and supportive. I repeatedly received follow up e-mails checking on my son’s status. Navigating the special needs world can be a miserable process. Sarah makes it less painful and lonely. She is a wonderful resource and a kind soul.

—Pam A.

Sarah Birnbaum was a great help in understanding the Turning 5 process. Although I was not able to attend her lecture, she helped me, over the phone, in understanding the procedures and creating a list of suitable schools for my daughter. Her list helped me narrow the alternatives and concentrate on the right programs. During my search, she was always helpful with any questions or concerns I had. I highly recommend her help in this complicated and stressful process.

—Keren M.

My family and I are incredibly grateful for all the guidance Sarah Birnbaum gave us. When our very bright son was struggling at school, we couldn’t understand why. Initially, we were overwhelmed by all the information thrown at us and we were fearful of putting him in “the System,” but Sarah helped us navigate the CPSE system without any glitches, and gave us the emotional support that parents often need. Sarah assured me that services applied at the right time can indeed give a child a boost without necessarily leading to a lifetime of support, and that we should not be afraid of getting him the help he needed. He received all the services we had hoped for and is thriving in his present environment. In fact, he made such great progress that after he got all the services he needed, CPSE completely discharged him. This is proof that “the system” actually works when you have someone like Sarah as your parent advocate. Without Sarah, I would have been lost.

—Lori G.

I attended Sarah’s Turning 5 seminar on the spur of the moment with a friend. Sarah turned out to be our guardian angel of NYC special education. Her vast knowledge and expert advice were invaluable as we searched for — and finally secured — an appropriate educational setting for our son. This can be a daunting process and Sarah is the utmost professional while also being, when needed, a cheerleader, a shoulder to cry on, and a sounding board. I can’t recommend Sarah Birnbaum highly enough.

—Tracey K.

When we realized our son might benefit from a special education program, it was one of the most stressful and trying times in our lives. We had nobody around us who could understand our situation or give advice. But we were very fortunate to meet Sarah, who turned out to be not only a very knowledgeable, bright and efficient coach, but also our biggest supporter, a kind and genuinely caring friend who was always there for us when we needed her the most, responding to a million of our questions quickly and comprehensively. The more we worked with Sarah, the more we were amazed by her expertise and problem-solving skills as well as her energy and her enthusiasm, which are contagious. Sarah always knew what to do and always gave the best advice. Thanks in large part to her support, in the fall our son is going to a wonderful school, which he is already excited about!

—Anne and Paul R.

I cannot say enough about the information, guidance, and support that Sarah has given our family over the years. She has ushered us through Early Intervention, CPSE, a questionable preschool placement, the Turning 5 process, and the school-age placement process with humor, patience, and empathy. Her knowledge and experience regarding navigating within the Department of Education, the myriad of school options, and the challenges parents may face is vast and she is the first person I contact when I have a question. During the Turning 5 process for my son I saw her on countless school tours and, because of her experience and knowledge, I always valued hearing what she thought and noticed. With her expert guidance we found an appropriate placement and are very excited about the future.

—Courtney C.

Pick up the phone and call Sarah. She knows the answers (or whom to call to get them). For EI, CPSE or CSE, she has been there – on her own and with her clients – hundreds of times. Within a week of my son’s diagnosis from EI, I was fortunate enough to have been introduced to Sarah. Her initial free consultation gave me both information and support at a time when I most needed it. I returned for guidance through the CPSE process and again for the Turning 5 process. At every stage, her counsel was spot-on and saved me literally days of time and provided comfort/reassurance. I am so grateful that Sarah was there to help me navigate the SN world of NYC – my child has reaped the benefits.

—Rebecca H.

Sarah has become the go-to advisor for special needs parents, and I know firsthand why that is. She is informed, she is empathetic and she is really hilarious. She breaks down situations into manageable chunks, and no one is better at giving that much-needed pep talk. Sarah not only helped me to sleep better at night, but she was instrumental in ensuring that my son’s educational needs were met. And I could always count on her for a laugh. Thank you, Sarah!

—Helena T.

Sarah Birnbaum is a great resource everyone should tap into. My first experience with her was an initial consultation of only 30 minutes, which led me to work for several months and completely changed the trajectory of my child’s education. I am a pretty strong advocate, but Sarah gave me information and tools needed to be successful. It was the best advice in the most needed times. My child has transformed tremendously and I have Sarah to thank for that!!

—Caryn K.

A friend referred me to Sarah Birnbaum and NY Special Needs Support. We were fortunate to get in touch with her as we were starting the process of securing a school placement for our son. With her guidance, we found the best way to do so. We truly feel that her services should be the starting point for any parent seeking the right school environment for their child.

—Charmaine G.

I really don’t know what I would have done without Sarah. I was completely overwhelmed at finding a school for my child, and Sarah helped me navigate my way through the whole process. She is amazing – incredibly knowledegable and patient – I can’t thank her enough for all her help. My family will forever be indebted to her!

—Allison Z.

Sarah is invaluable. She coached us through the EI and CPSE processes with kindness and care and we felt secure and taken care of. My son is thriving and we could not have done this without her. I cannot recommend her services enough.

—Rebecca B.

I can’t thank Sarah enough for helping me get my son the services he needed. Her sensitivity, expansive knowledge about the “system” and how to navigate it and her consistent availability by phone or email helped me survive this crazy process! I will definitely call her again if I have any more issues!

—Lauren L.

Sarah has been an invaluable asset to our family, helping us secure the appropriate services for our son through CPSE and beyond. No other single source offers such concise and practical advice to parents with special needs children in New York City. She’s struggled through the same processes and succeeded. Her approach is personal and offers hope for parents feeling overwhelmed in a very bureaucratic process. If you have any doubts about your education choices, please make Sarah your first call!

—Carolyn C.

There is no one else in NYC who is doing as much amazing work for special needs parents. Sarah’s seminars about the CPSE and Turning 5 processes are invaluable for parents. I can assure you that the time you spend listening to Sarah will have a positive impact on your child.

—Paula L.

We are just so very thankful to have found Sarah. We couldn’t imagine going through this complicated and daunting process without her. She has all the knowledge, the contacts, and guided us through the entire process from helping us find the most appropriate schools/programs for our son, preparing questions for meetings, letting us know what our son was entitled to, what to expect, and so much more. The caring support she gave us was invaluable! Sarah was our map through this process, giving us the best directions instead of us wasting valuable time trying to figure it all out on our own by taking countless side roads. I wish all pediatric offices had her info to share with any parents who start looking into evaluations and/or extra support for their child because that way she could be a part of the team at the very start of their new journey. We will certainly contact her again when we need her help.

—Josefin W.

Sarah was the first person to give us clarity in the very complicated process that we had to go through in searching for the best option for our son with special needs. She gave us very valuable advice, and I recommend her services for parents who need step-by-step guidance. She is amazing!

—Marta V.

I feel so fortunate to have found Sarah. It can be very lonely and overwhelming to manage all of these new and complicated issues and agencies. It is so hard to know where to turn. Sarah gave me the guidance and inspiration to help me get the support I needed for my child. She is warm and caring. It is great to have found an advocate – and friend – who can help me through this!

—Lisa L.

When my daughter was having a very difficult time in her well-regarded public kindergarten program, she started regressing and losing many of the gains she had made in preschool. My frustration was mounting. I was in fight or flight mode, heavily leaning towards flight! My husband had attended one of Sarah’s “Turning 5” workshops and the information was so clear and helpful that we called Sarah for advice. My conversations with Sarah snapped me out of a negative downward spiral and showed me how to advocate for my child. Sarah gave me invaluable guidance on how to systematically explore education options for my child. My daughter now attends an appropriate school and things are looking up for her and our family. Working with Sarah gave me the strength to do right by my daughter and get the services to which she is entitled. I will not hesitate to call Sarah again if we hit another bump in the road.

—Sarah V.

My son was diagnosed with expressive/receptive language disorder. My husband and I did not know exactly what that meant, but we did know that it classified him as special needs. So, we hit the internet and researched what it was, how it’s treated, etc. In our travels, we stumbled across Sarah’s website and noticed that she offers a free 30-minute consultation, so we scheduled an appointment. Within that time she gave us just about everything we needed in order to get started in finding an appropriate learning environment for our son! And that was just the beginning. Working with Sarah never felt like business…she genuinely cared about finding the appropriate situation for our son, and took the time to explain to us the pros and cons of each school as they related to him. Sarah is extremely accessible, very affordable, and has many connections! She’s like a celebrity in the special needs world – as she should be – and opened up many doors for us, and more importantly, our son’s new program, which has turned him into a brand new kid who loves to learn! Anyone trying to navigate the NYC school system with a special needs child should START with a call to Sarah!

—Serena S.

Sarah is providing unique and far-reaching services to parents of special needs children. Trying to navigate the CPSE system in order to get the appropriate services for my child was, at first, an extremely daunting and frustrating task. With Sarah’s expertise and support, I felt like I gained the necessary knowledge and skills to become the best possible advocate for my child. Not only did Sarah assist me in getting the appropriate services for my child, but she empowered me as a parent and helped me embrace this extraordinary role of being a parent of a child with special needs.

—Holly R.

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