what mick jagger and sarah birnbaum have in common

"you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need..." I am beginning to think that is a song about parenting - I can't stop quoting it to families. 

I finally met Sarah Birnbaum, NY Special Needs Support, in person this morning. If you have a child who "will do well anywhere" you can stop reading. You are good to go. This blog is for the parents of "quirky" kids, kids with learning differences, kids who require a specific environment, and for parents who need to find someone who understands and can help. Sarah is the missing link for those families. She is your translator, interface, the truth teller (whether you are ready to hear or not), and your fierce advocate.

I immediately recognized a kindred soul. She can't help herself. She is a boundless flood of useful information. She is passionate about her families, and while she is not going to sugar coat the challenges you may encounter, she has the pragmatic, full steam ahead energy of a person that gets the best outcome possible in any situation.

Of course everyone hopes for a carefree, happy path for their child. All children are beautiful and brilliant, but they don't all have an easy time, and it can be a shock for young parents to find themselves with a child who has learning differences. It is lonely at the playground and prospects, even good ones, seem scary. Take heart. This is not your grandmother's "special needs" world. A "label" need not be a life sentence, in fact in many cases if you are able to address challenges early on when there is a real window of opportunity there can be a very positive change in outcome. Some kids will always have challenges, but that doesn't mean that they can't find the right learning environment where they can be happy and develop their best selves. But no matter what the situation, you have someone in Sarah who can help you find your way in the dark.

Here is the thing about good parenting for all children: You can't engineer success. You need to jettison the preconceived notions and prejudices and inappropriate expectations. It is all about baby steps; giving birth, repeating or not repeating your family patterns, managing diet and urban stress and work/life balance and guilt and discipline and school and your parents and religion and teenage behaviour and sex and drugs and rock and roll - you can only do what is right for your child at each moment along the way with the information at hand and that information will be constantly changing. Stay calm and don't quit...because that is how you get the job done.

Sarah's Free Turning 5 talk on Monday, Sept. 22

She also highly recommends the JCC in Manhattan's Special Needs School Fair, Wed. Nov. 19 5:30-7:30