I shudder to think of trying to navigate the Turning 5 process without Sarah’s help. Sarah was there for us every step of the way as a counselor, an editor, a project manager, a knowledgeable advisor and the voice of reason. With Sarah’s help we found the right school for our son, got him admitted to our first choice, and managed to stay sane throughout the process.

—Jacob C.

There are no words to express adequately how grateful I am that I worked with Sarah Birnbaum. I first met Sarah at her “Life After EI” talk. I was really impressed with her and knew that she could help me navigate the world of Early Intervention. Sarah helped me address all my questions and concerns, from understanding evaluations to deciding whether my child should be in a center-based EI program. Her excellent guidance helped me put in place all the services that were appropriate for my child. She also gave me invaluable preparation for our CPSE meeting and finding a preschool, and with her help, we were successful in getting a wonderful program and set of therapies. She is very knowledgeable and easy to talk to. Sarah truly understands what parents of special needs children go through on a daily basis. Working with Sarah is without a doubt one of the best decisions I ever made.

—Marlene F.

Sarah Birnbaum’s Turning 5 presentation is a must-see for anyone going through the special needs application process. She manages to pack those two hours full of virtually all of the basic information you need to help navigate the system. I followed up and used Sarah’s consulting services to get advice for my daughter’s specific situation and again, Sarah’s advice proved to be invaluable. We managed to secure the perfect placement for my daughter. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the results.

—Michelle W.

I attended an informational talk that Sarah gave about the Turning 5 process and how to find the right school for your child. Although I was feeling completely overwhelmed after hearing her information, it was enough to light a fire under me to get this difficult process started. Because of Sarah’s advice, my daughter got into every school we applied her to. I was able to CHOOSE the right school for her. I feel confident in our choice and I cannot wait for my daughter to spread her wings and begin her journey in elementary school.

—Alyceson R.

Sarah is an invaluable, empathetic and objective resource as our family continues to navigate the complicated process of finding an appropriate educational path for our son. She has saved us both time and money by offering clear, concise and well-informed advice.

—Suzanne T.

The summer before my daughter entered a mainstream pre-K with a SEIT, I started researching schools for special needs children. Everyone I talked to – neuropsychologists and school admissions personnel – referred me to Sarah. In a 30-minute call, Sarah explained the entire Turning Five process to me and became my official tour guide through what I call the Alternate Universe of Special Needs Education in NYC. Sarah was a treasured resource for our family this past year. She is always available, responsive and respectful of your time. She has relationships with the schools, doctors and other experts in the special needs world so she can give great and informed advice, but she never oversteps her bounds. She’ll be the first person to tell you when you need to call one of those professionals. Finally, as someone who has been in this “Alternate Universe” for a while, she is a great sounding board and source of strength for all of us who are new to it.

—Jessica Q.

What would we special needs parents do without Sarah Birnbaum? I first called her in a panic over placement for my middle school daughter, and she not only got right back to me, she was extremely knowledgeable, kind, and made my panic disappear – I knew we were in good hands. She knows her stuff, she cares about our kids, and she makes a point of connecting parents to each other if they have valuable information about schools to share. I am so glad to have found you, Sarah!

—Hannah A.

I thank my lucky stars every day that I happened to find Sarah after some online research into the Turning 5 process. After I initially contacted her, I spoke to my son’s team and they assured me that he was all set for the fall, and I told Sarah that we did not actually need her help. Boy was I wrong! Sarah begged me to speak to her first, free of charge, so she could explain the process to me. She was not looking for money or to build her business, but just wanted to get me on the phone long enough to explain my son’s options. That conversation changed everything and I hired her, and I am so glad I did. Now I can sleep peacefully knowing that he is headed for the right kindergarten for him. Did I mention that I had a baby in the middle of all of this? Sarah was extremely sensitive to my own personal deadline and made sure that despite all of the mounting pressure I would have all of the support I needed for the Turning 5 process. Sarah Birnbaum is not a consultant. She is a guardian angel and a priceless resource to any parent with a special needs child.

—Jen M.

The Turning 5 process is as imperative to a child’s scholastic progression as it is daunting. There is a new language to learn and innumerable elements that parents must assemble in preparation for the Turning 5 meeting in order to best advocate on behalf of our kids. It is essential to familiarize ourselves with the details of the process and how to navigate it to achieve a successful outcome. Sarah Birnbaum is an invaluable resource during the Turning 5 process because she’s informed, experienced, and very professional. Her knowledge of the process, available resources, and effective meeting preparation strategy sent me into my son’s meeting with a priceless advantage. I would recommend Sarah to anyone on their journey through the T5 process. The level of dedication and passion that Sarah applies to all that she does truly sets parents up for success.

—Natasha C.

Having Sarah help me navigate the school selection and application process was the smartest thing I ever did. She knows the schools inside and out, including what type of learner they are seeking and whether the school was a good fit for my child. And she doesn’t just understand the schools’ and children’s needs, she understands how to work with the parents. In my case, she knew exactly how much she needed to push me (a lot) in order to stay on schedule with deadlines, and when to check in with me to keep me on track. She was always available when I needed her (she must work 20 hours/day), and remembered every detail about my child. She is phenomenal at what she does and went above and beyond to help me through the process.

—Amy F.

I had heard from various professionals along my path with my daughter that Sarah Birnbaum is the “go-to” person in the special needs world. I went to one of her Turning 5 talks, which provided a world of extremely useful information about a complicated and difficult process. When I saw that Sarah had a full house of people there at the time I went, I completely understood why! She explained everything that is needed about the entire Turning 5 process in a concise, comprehensive, and easy-to-understand way. She gave valuable resources to all attendees that my husband and I have used over the past year. Additionally, in a subsequent conversation I had with Sarah about my child, she was able to further clarify specific next steps for us to take in a realistic, logical way. She really is a wonderful advocate and resource, and my regret is that I was not in touch with her earlier in our process.

—Hillary J.

I had reached out to Sarah in a major frenzy after being advised mid-year by my daughter’s preschool that she needed to be in a more supportive setting for kindergarten. Sarah quickly made herself available to me and within days, she was in my house helping me with school applications. She also put me in touch with other resources that were pivotal to my search and helped my situation immeasurably. Sarah has a wealth of knowledge and she genuinely cares. While this is something that Sarah does as a “career,” it is comforting knowing she is also a SN parent, and speaks from her own experience and from the heart. My advice to other parents when learning of their child’s diagnosis, and for the daunting Turning 5 process: Do NOT pass Go, do NOT collect 200 dollars, call Sarah immediately. She is worth every penny!!!

—Raneet B.

It is hard to imagine how parents in New York city navigated the landscape of special education before Sarah Birnbaum’s acclaimed Turning 5 Talks. Sarah is a goldmine of helpful information, which she delivers in a way that is useful and productive, designed to manage rather than heighten the anxiety of this difficult transition. After meeting Sarah at one of her talks, I was impressed to find her on almost every school tour I attended. I took this as a sign of her tireless effort to remain up to date about the very latest developments. She asked knowing and pointed questions that revealed essential aspects of these schools’ programs. In individual counseling, Sarah made a genuine effort to get to know the needs of our child and our family, so that she could help us to make choices that were right for us. There are no cookie-cutter solutions here; Sarah is the real thing. I can’t recommend her highly enough!

—Rachel A.

Sarah is the go-to person for school advice and contacts. Her connections to other special needs families were pivotal in helping me make my school decision. I thank her — and them — from the bottom of my heart.

—Sharon D.

When our son’s preschool told us he was struggling in the classroom and we needed to look at a more supportive setting, we were lost, upset, and confused. A friend recommended talking to Sarah to find out more about the special education landscape, and we are so glad we did! Sarah explained each part of the process to us, read all of his reports, and guided us every step of the way to our successful meeting with CPSE. Our son is showing terrific improvement in every way and we are so excited by his progress! Thank you Sarah for all your help!

—Carol M.

After I attended Sarah’s Turning 5 talk, I knew she was the person I was looking for to help me with the transition from CPSE to CSE. Her knowledge, support and guidance were really appreciated! She helped me target the most appropriate schools for my son, overcome the application process, and select the right program from my options. During the whole process, Sarah was not only a phenomenal advocate, but someone truly dedicated, talented and warm. Thank you for all your help. I will always remember and recommend you!

—Luciana N.

Sarah has been extremely helpful to my family. She is a wonderful resource of information and has provided us with incredible guidance on how to navigate the exceptionally complicated world of special needs. She is both clear and compassionate in her approach to identifying the types of environment that may be best for your child. The process of finding the right school for a child with learning differences can be daunting and overwhelming. But Sarah’s vast knowledge and extensive network has made the journey so much easier. In addition to helping us outline potential schools, she connected us with both superb professionals as well as parents who have been in our shoes. I highly recommend her services!

—Tracy H.

The Turning 5 process is a nightmare. After I heard one of Sarah’s free talks, I had a wealth of information. I knew she would be an invaluable resource when it came time to apply, and boy was she!! Sarah helped me every single step of the way. She is truly remarkable at what she does and worth every penny. I could never have navigated through this process by myself. Sarah is by far the best and most needed asset from start to finish for the transition of CPSE to CSE. My son is on to our first choice school for kindergarten and for that I am forever grateful. Thank you, Sarah!!

—Gabby W.

Sarah has been an immeasurable help throughout this entire process. Attending her Turning 5 talk was the best thing we did to demystify the tasks at hand and develop a roadmap to getting the desired placement for our daughter for the fall. Sarah is extremely knowledgeable about the different school programs and was frank and responsive to all of our inquiries. We continued to rely on her advice during our school search, the application process, and the ultimate decision about our daughter’s placement. Thank you, Sarah. Your guidance was invaluable.

—SoJin B.

Sarah is a gift to the NYC special needs community. She has great insight and has proven to be a trusted and indispensable advisor for many.

—Thomas D.

I wish that all parents of children with special needs could have the opportunity to hear Sarah Birnbaum speak about how to navigate the process of appropriate school placement for their children. In two hours, Sarah armed me with more information than I had been able to obtain in the previous two years. I highly recommend attending one of Sarah’s seminars if you have a child with special needs. It will change your life.

—Jackie P.

Sarah prepared us and held our hands during the EI and CPSE meetings. If it weren’t for her guidance, our daughter wouldn’t be attending one of the best CPSE preschools! Sarah was truly our guardian angel!

—Elizabeth E.

I met Sarah via email early on in our adventure with our son. At that time, we were in the system and moving along just fine. I really felt like I knew a lot about the system and the resources available to me. When everything took a horrible turn for the worse, about three years into it, I realized how little I did know and how much Sarah knows. She talked schools, therapists, resources that I had never heard of. And if she didn’t know, boy did she know at least one person who would have an answer for me, and a good one. She’s incredibly easy to talk to and a wonderful listener. But she is also, just as importantly, a great motivator. It’s easy to get bogged down by the process, and sometimes it feels like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. But she got us going and kept us going. Encouraging and checking up on us – like an amazing personal trainer. Thank you Sarah – we would not be where we are today without you.

—Maryann G.

Sarah was an invaluable resource to us when our son transitioned from CPSE to CSE and as we researched options for kindergarten. Our son is now in a kindergarten setting that is right for him and our family. We could not have achieved this result without Sarah’s wonderful guidance.

—Ann R.

Becoming a special needs mother is the toughest job I never asked for, but having met and worked with Sarah gave me the strength, courage and knowledge to get the services and education my child needed. Sarah was with me for every step of the way during the toughest 16 months of my life—from the day I admitted to myself my three-year old child needed Pre-K special education services to his admittance to a great kindergarten program. She visited schools with me, trained me on what to look for and what to ask, offered advice on which professionals to work with, brainstormed with me on the appropriate elementary schools for my child. She also listened to me and encouraged me to fight when I was feeling defeated. Thanks to Sarah, my child’s future is brighter because she taught me how to be the best mom advocate I could be for my child. And for that, I’m forever grateful.

—Marian P.

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