TESTIMONIALSSPECIAL NEEDS ATTORNEY AND ADVOCATE
I felt like I was alone until I met Johanna. My son was diagnosed with autism and a severe feeding disorder when he was 18 months. He started pre-k in public school when he was 3. He was treated at St Joseph’s feeding clinic. They trained me for 6 weeks how to feed him puréed foods and milk with spoons. They provided the school with a written protocol. And I trained the school’s behaviorist. However, the school staff were not successful in feeding my son his entire meal for 1.5 years. They wouldn’t let me retrain their staff despite the feeding doctor recommending that several times, verbally and in writing. They refused to cooperate. It was heartbreaking seeing my son crying for food when I picked him up from school every day for over a year. Then I met Johanna on Facebook when I cried out for help in a Facebook group for moms with autistic kids. She took my case on immediately without hesitation and knew exactly what to do. And she made me realize that in the 2 years my son was in pre-K, he made absolutely no progress. He hadn’t met one single goal in his IEP in the 2 years he was there. I’ll be honest, I’m a warrior and have strategically fought my way through many battles throughout my life. Single-handedly. But eventually, I realized, I couldn’t do this one alone. I was an emotional wreck and sad and angry at the school. So many emotions through it all. But Johanna listened to me and calmed me. She laid out the entire process and kept reminding me what would happen at each step. She reassured me that everything would work out. And it did! She helped me get my son transferred out of district to a private school. A school that is fully equipped to meet his need. A school that continually asks for my input and lets me train and retrain the staff how to feed my son. I finally feel relieved and excited for my son’s future. Johanna helped me win this battle. And did so, strategically, with 100% dedication and a high degree of professionalism. And, as a strategic warrior myself, I don’t say that lightly. I know that if any other troubles arise regarding my son, Johanna will always have my back. I know I can always call on her should any further problems arise. And I know she will stand by my side so that I don’t ever have to face another battle alone.
– RAQUEL JOSEPH
I have put off writing this due to the fact that I can’t conjure up the right words to explain the full impact of what Johanna Burke has done for my family. We first met as members of a committee – it was quickly apparent that she was a true warrior mama, willing to go above and beyond for her own child. We worked together several years – as co-warriors, if you will…I knew she was a lawyer, but my son was young, and even though he had severe autism, we weren’t in need of professional services at that time. We had no idea what was to come. With her son being just a few years older than mine, I watched as he went through challenges – seizures, additional medical problems, trouble at school – and in the years that followed, my own son went through the same. They followed a similar path, almost in a scarily coincidental way. When the pandemic hit, my son became a different kid – I don’t think it was just the pandemic, but the sudden lack of school and services were the match that lit the fire of who he was becoming. He was aggressive, to himself and to others. When we started the process of placing him outside of our home, we had no idea how difficult each and every step of the journey would be – but Johanna did. She had gone through it with her own child, and it is for that reason that I knew there was no one better qualified to help us. She fought tirelessly, passionately, as if he was her own. She went above and beyond on more than one occasion, at one point sitting with me at multiple hospitals over a 3-day period as we fought and begged to get him the help that he needed. She reached out to politicians and heads of department – and did not give up until my child was placed in an appropriate setting. That was 8 months ago – in this time, he has recovered from most of the severe behaviors that he exhibited during the pandemic. We sleep at night knowing that he is safe, taken care of and in the only place he can be in order to reach his full potential. There are no words to thank her properly, but I will say that there is no one else that I would trust the fate of my child more than Johanna Burke. She is the best at what she does – because she leads with her passionate, determined heart. And all of these kids are in some way her own. We will be forever grateful to her.
– CANDI & ADAM CALDERONE
My wife Uma and I suddenly faced a new reality out of nowhere when our son who was in college was diagnosed with Autism and Severe Mental Illness. We faced so many challenges and we felt like fish out of water because all of this was completely new to us and we didn’t know where to go.
We tried getting help for our son in terms of finding good Doctors, Therapists, etc. Things were slowly getting worse and eventually my son had to be hospitalized. We had to send him out of state for residential treatment because the system in New Jersey let us down. We were financially and emotionally exhausted. It was by God’s grace that Uma found Johanna to help navigate our lives.
Johanna helped us in getting all the eligible state and federal help and services that we can get for our son. With the services we have in place now, we are able to provide good care for our son and he is slowly recovering and one day can live a healthy and meaningful life.
Our son, Uma, and I are learning to accept our son’s disability and still find ways to live as meaningful a life as possible. Our hope and faith is strong because of the support and empathy from Johanna. May God bless Johanna for her tireless dedication to helping families and their loved ones to get the services they need and live a fulfilling life.
– GOPI & UMA GOPALAKRISHNAN
It is an exhaustive process to navigate the world of special needs advocacy for your loved one. Parents and guardians alike struggle with the enormous responsibility of making medical, financial, educational, and housing decisions that will lead to their desired outcome based on their loved one’s needs. Oftentimes it becomes necessary to seek legal counsel to assure positive outcomes are achieved. I am so grateful that my and Johanna’s paths crossed.
Johanna Burke, Esq assisted me with obtaining guardianship and successfully submitting an appeal for my son’s SSI claim. Johanna has the knowledge and know-how to get the job done. She is aware, on a very personal level, of the challenges that parents and guardians face when attempting to meet their loved ones needs. Above all else she is compassionate, empathetic, and responsive to questions and concerns. This ability to listen and communicate effectively was instrumental in building a trusting relationship. No question was too big or small, she never wavered in her faith, and gently reminded me that although these things take time she had it covered.
Throughout the years there have been many times that I have reflected upon decisions and how they have impacted my son. One thing is for sure, acquiring the services of Johanna was one of my best decisions. If you need to seek the services of an attorney advocate for your loved one with special needs look no further than Johanna Burke, Esq.
– SUSAN SANCILIO, BSN, RN
Heartbreaking when your child suffers from a serious disability. Devastating when you have difficulty in getting your child the treatment, care and/or placement he or she may need, which all too often happens despite your best efforts. Our children will always be our children, whether they are infants or adults.
Having the sad personal experience of being the mother of a disabled child, Johanna understood my concerns and strongly advocated for my son. Through it all she is extremely supportive and very knowledgeable. She understands the laws that are there to protect your child with disabilities. I am so thankful to God for allowing me to find Johanna! She totally understands clients with disabilities and special needs.
If you are experiencing any discrimination or your loved one is not receiving the care and resources they are entitled to and deserve, then you need to call Johanna Burke, Esq… a/k/a Superwoman.
Can one person change your life completely ~ yes!! Meeting Johanna gave my whole family a new meaning of life and mostly a happier better future. Without her knowledge, compassion, and guidance we would of stayed in our anxiety-ridden world and would not have a clue how to navigate being a special needs parent. Your path for your child is very different and most times hopeless, but Johanna has guided us when we felt completely lost. With having Johanna as our attorney not only did she hold my hand through the whole process of transitioning my son out of our home, she gave me enormous strength at a very trying time! Johanna made it possible to give my son a better way of life and for that I will forever be grateful!!
– HEATHER GINSBURG
Johanna is the absolute best! Not only will she fight relentlessly, she puts her entire heart into it as well. She fought for us and demanded that our non-verbal son had ALL of the necessary support in place to keep him safe. There truly are not enough great things to say about her. Thank you, Johanna!
– PATRICK & STACY HAGAN
Johanna is titled “SuperWoman” for a reason. She is extremely smart when it comes to her craft as a Special Needs Lawyer. Based on her fight for appropriate rights for her own son it has channeled her to become a superb lawyer not just for her own child but for everyone else’s classified special needs child.
Her commitment and making herself available to answer any questions and concerns shows her care for those clients she fights for. I’m glad I was able to receive her services with my 2nd eldest son.
She is the absolute best!
– SIDNEY RUIZ
I knew I wanted to be prepared and have my daughter’s Guardianship documentation (forms and interviews) completed come time for her 18th birthday, so that when that time came, all we would have to do is file the paperwork with family court.
I began inquiring with doctors and educators if they could recommend a lawyer who handles special needs issues. Everyone threw their hands up in the air. They didn’t have a clue. In fact, one person said to me “You can fill out the forms yourself and just pay the $250 fee.”. This is so not the case. It is much, much more complicated than that and I am no lawyer.
I was fortunate enough to have a mutual friend who suggested I contact Johanna Burke Esq. Johanna is also a mother of a son with Special Needs. She has had the same experiences we all have had at some point in time. She gets it. Not only does she advocate for her own son, but she advocates for all. I knew this was the person I wanted fighting\representing my daughter.
Johanna is always professional, communicates the process to you in a way that everyone can understand, and is there to help you every step of the way. She is the hardest working and most compassionate person I have had the privilege to work with…My husband and I are so grateful for all she has done for our family.
– JEANNE & FRANCIS HUNT
Where to begin this. The last few years I have been doing research on finding a lawyer to try and get a procedure that has been needed for some time. While our physicians have been helping me by giving me the names of lawyers, how are we as parents supposed to come up with the large sums of money that they want. Do they truly understand what we do for our children? I have been on several special need pages online and was finally given information about Johanna Burke. All I can say is she has been the best advocate for my child. She understood exactly what I was trying to accomplish during a brief conversation, and immediately stepped right in to take the lead. Johanna was able to work her magic to lead us in the right direction, in obtaining all the credible information needed for us to proceed. This has been nothing short of a miracle. I have been fighting for my child for over 17 years, and now I know I won’t be alone any longer in fighting for my daughter. Johanna Burke, ESQ fought for my child and I will be forever grateful to her. I told her that she is the angel I have needed to be an advocate for my child. We spoke regarding the case, and she did all the follow-up work needed, which honestly was one less thing that I didn’t have to worry about. I knew we were in good hands at that moment. I will continue to spread your name throughout the special needs community as so many of us are being taken advantage of. Johanna Burke, ESQ is a true hero to the special needs community. Keep advocating for our children as well as your own. I truly can’t thank you enough.
– CATHY CARMINO
WOW!!! My experience with Johanna G. Burke, Esq has been an experience that will live in me forever. Johanna has rejuvenated my strength: I refused to give up. All I needed was for it to hit home and find someone who knew where I was coming from. Do not get it confused, all lawyers are not created equal. I went through three lawyers, before finding Johanna. All three lawyers thought that my child’s diagnosis was just a temper tantrum and me being an overly dramatic mother. NOT! Johanna, she understood my concerns and strongly advocated for my son. Through it all she is extremely supportive and very knowledgeable. She understands the laws that are there to protect your child with disabilities. I am so thankful to God for allowing me to find Johanna! Johanna totally understands clients with disabilities and special needs. If you are experiencing any discrimination or your loved one is not receiving the care and resources that your child is entitled to and deserves, then you need to call Johanna Burke, Esq… AKA Superwoman.
– JANINE RODRIGUEZ
I can’t say enough about Johanna! How dedicated and passionate she is about what she does! Through out the years she has helped with my children providing her services and for that I’m extremely grateful. If you want someone in your corner providing resources and results… that’s Johanna Burke. You and your children will be in the best hands!
– HEIDI RUIZ
Johanna has been a game changer in my education journey with my autistic son. She strongly advocated for my son, securing him more school therapy and placement in the appropriate special needs classroom. She took the time to get to know me, my special needs son and the rest of my family – she truly cares! She has become more than our special education attorney, she has become a friend. She is supportive, knowledgeable and highly responsive. I have become more confident and courageous with her at our school meetings and overall in my journey as a mom. I feel honored to have Johanna represent my family – she is making a meaningful, positive impact in the autism community with her many efforts, including with the work in her non-profit organization!
She is an Autism Earth Angel!!!!!!!!!!!!
– JANAH RODRIGUEZ
Johanna Burke and I met at our mutual friend’s son’s funeral 3 years ago “extremely bittersweet!” I knew right away that she was a “Firecracker” so full of life! Johanna is not only an Amazing advocate/mother that fights for her son Aidan on a daily basis to make sure he is cared for, loved, and thriving to the most infinite extent, but she has a PASSION to do the same for others.
I retained Johanna because of the horrific physical/mental abuse my nonverbal son with Autism endured in his group home just May of this year. Each time I contacted Johanna with a concern or issue I was having with the group home staff it was addressed immediately. Johanna made sure my son was receiving the utmost appropriate care that he was entitled to and made sure he was safe until he was relocated to his new home. My son Brandon is happily thriving again!
I highly recommend Johanna Burke to anyone that wants an Attorney that will fight for your special needs child like she’s fighting for her own.
– PRISCILLA QUESADA
Johanna is the best! I don’t think anyone else could have done what she did for my daughter. Everyone who knows the obstacles we faced agrees. My daughter is now 30 and over the years we worked with numerous advocates and attorneys. Johanna is by far the best. She said she would fight for us and never give up. She is professional, really well organized, articulate, personable, knowledgeable, on top of everything and she was always available. She is also compassionate and understanding and thinks outside the box. We never went to court. Johanna was able to work with NJ to negotiate a resolution. Jen is now “home” happy, safe and thriving, living a rich fulfilling life. We will be forever grateful!
Many already know our story. Johanna was able to get the media involved and our story was on the front page of the Record and NJ news on TV. We were victims of the “Return home NJ” program. NJ cut funding for Jen’s out of state program where she was thriving forcing her back to NJ against our wishes. I found a group home in NJ considered one of the best but shockingly, she was abused and neglected there. All of the NJ group homes we looked at or tried were run the same way and had similar problems. I had hired a reputable law firm but they were unable to help and fortunately I found Johanna when the timing was right to resume the fight to return Jen to her out of state home. It took persistence but Johanna never gave up as promised.
– JOAN SULLIVAN
I really cannot say enough about the services of Johanna Burke. My daughter had been struggling in school for years with an IEP. I felt hopeless and at my wits end. Dealing with the school and all the state regulations was very confusing to me. That is when I reached out to Johanna. Johanna began advocating for my daughter and her rights. For the first time in many years I felt heard. The proper programs and assistance were finally put into place. To this day I am beyond grateful.
– MARGE ORTH
Johanna Burke, Esq., has been my sons attorney since 2017. Prior to hiring Ms Burke, my son struggled in a school that was not meeting his needs for several years. It was not until I hired Ms. Burke that my son began to progress tremendously and make strides that he never would have made without her assistance. Her first hand experience with Autism and special needs education paired with her knowledge of the law is beyond comparison. Johanna worked with me tirelessly. I do not know where we would be without her dedication to ensuring my son had everything he needed and deserved. I cannot put into words how much of a difference she has made in our lives. We don’t know where we would be without her. I’m not only proud to call her my son’s attorney, but even more grateful to now call her my friend.
– LISETTE BONACCULTA
There is so much more to raising an autistic child that nobody tells you. The ins and outs are extremely overwhelming. Once my daughter needed a new out of district program, Johanna Burke, Esq. stepped in. Making sure her IEP was up to snuff and navigating the state services that Emma was not getting, and I was getting nowhere with on my own. As the years went by, and my daughters behaviors became too much to handle in the home, Johanna once again stepped in and guided me through the very scary world of group home visits. Leaving no stone unturned she held my hand as the decision was made to place Emma into an amazing program. Accompanying me to find the new school and making sure every single thing possible was available to her and still is. Even today she is battling the social security system to make sure that my daughter gets every single thing she deserves. Her professionalism and knowledge that she has of the special needs system are indescribable. Hers is a name that most districts know, and even fear. She stops at nothing for the families she represents. My family is forever grateful to have her in our lives.
– ELIZABETH UTVIK
Johanna and I met through a mutual friend on Facebook. I needed an attorney to help me acquire appropriate services and a proper program placement because my son’s school district was failing to do so. I am now in the process of opening an adult day care for adults with autism. I was extremely consumed and overwhelmed by the extensive paperwork. Johanna was not phased by any of it. She was able to guide me through the entire application process and state requirements. I am opening this daycare because of my son and FOR my son. Johanna understands how important this is to me. I have not only gained an extremely knowledgeable attorney, but also a friend. Her expertise and support brings me peace and strength. I could not imagine this journey without her help. Johanna Burke is an intelligent, strong and kind woman. I am honored to have her by my side.
– BEATRIZ WAHL
When retaining an attorney, I have learned first-hand that it is not about who is the most reputable attorney, or who has won the most cases. It is about the passion and the connection that makes the ultimate difference. That is Johanna Burke! She gets it because it hits home! She is passionate, responsive, and relentless! It is always a plus when one can share your pain, experiences, and goals. I was so disappointed with the majority on the list for special needs attorneys in the state of NJ. Between the prices and no replies, it was an added stress. Having a child with special needs is heavy but when you find yourself in need of an attorney many only see the dollar! And what they can suggest we do! Perhaps they have become so desensitize to our stories’, but this is not Johanna! She wants to help this population and services them not only through her being a special needs attorney but through her nonprofit for the special need’s population. I truly am forever grateful for her professional work and for her determination in achieving what was in the best interest of my son.
My recent case was a challenging one, one in which every attorney called “a difficult one”! Most attorneys said it would take a year and a year in attorney fees would have crippled me. In a time of despair and at the height of Covid-19, Johanna took on my case and did not disappoint. We landed victory! 😊
Thank you, Johanna Burke!
– ROXANNE ZSIDO
Our child suffers from multiple handicaps and at the time was unable to walk. We looked through several different programs to find the school that best suited him. We were truly unable to do so until we were introduced to Johanna Burke. She began advocating at first to open some doors and show us the possibilities. Johanna Burke is a professional advocate for our Special Needs Child. She was extremely patient and thorough when helping us place our child in a proper school environment. She knows the laws and rights of these individuals and was determined to not only find my son suitable placement in an amazing school, but helped us coordinate with other organizations for proper resources to continue working for our child. Johanna did not just send us on the right path and walk away, but continues to check in on our child and his needs. She continues to support us and mentor us along the way. She is an amazing and dedicated person who truly cares about the client and the whole picture. Our family is blessed to know her and work with her.
– THE FECZER FAMILY
I first met Johanna Burke, Esq. when I hit the lowest point of my life. My adult son was evicted from his group home in the middle of the night and taken to jail instead of the hospital. My son Tyler had gone through all of the group home providers and none would take him due to his severe behavior. Tyler had left a successful placement when he aged out at 21 years old. However, that placement was out of state in PA. Getting the State of NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities to allow him to return to the placement was impossible. They just decided to leave him in jail. Community life for him in a group home was challenging because he is not employable and needs 1:1 supervision. Even with 1:1 supervision, he still got violent. A typical day for him was get up, get agitated, go to the ER, spend the day, go home and repeat, daily. The hospital did not want him coming daily and often tried to get DDD to re-evaluate placement. DDD was not forthcoming. Johanna Burke came onto the case. With her advocacy and legal means, she was able to get DDD to agree to take Tyler back to Woods Services, in PA. There was a state wide moratorium on sending folks out of state for care. Somehow, she made it happen. My son has been back for years now living a happy, successful, productive life thanks to Johanna’s advocacy and legal expertise. Johanna is not like other attorneys. She cares deeply about her clients, and their families. She is one of the kindest people I know. I have remained friends with her and share many positive updates with her regarding Tyler. Tyler loves her and talks fondly about her often. I would highly recommend Johanna Burke, Esq. and her legal services. I really don’t know where we would be had we not chosen to use Johanna. She never gave up on us!
– RITA O’GRADY
I first met Johanna through a mutual friend on Facebook when my son was being taken advantage of at a pediatric residential facility in Cherry Hill, NJ. I spoke with Johanna about everything he was going through and she jumped right in! It didn’t matter to her that he was in Cherry Hill and she was in Hawthorne. It didn’t matter to her my financial situation (she said we’d figure it out) She drove to every single meeting. She was implemental in getting my son removed from the house he was wrongfully placed in and into another that better suited his needs. A house he thrived in. A house he wouldn’t have been able to get into if not for Johanna. She is determined, she is tough, she is relentless and she’s a mom who gets it! She understands all our hopes and fears. She is deeply hurt when one of our children is hurt. Physically & emotionally. Was it the endless meetings, phone calls, research and determination? Was it the fact she’s a mom with a developmentally disabled son too? Was it her sitting up late at night and listening to me cry? I can’t tell you one thing because it’s everything!! Everything this fierce warrior does she does it passionately! She’s considered part of my family since the first time we met and always will be. I have so much love and respect for this woman. We love you!
– LISA & JOEY EGAN
When I was completely desperate to get help for my son who suffers from Epilepsy, and an Acquired Brain Injury due to brain surgery he underwent for the uncontrolled seizures, I reached out to other parents of disabled children in New Jersey through a Facebook group. I met a mom who, after hearing our story, immediately told me, “It’s time to call Johanna Burke”. I had already had several attorneys, but they were not able to help us. I called Johanna and she was willing to help us.
My son was a patient in the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services system and even though they knew that his condition was neurological and chronic and needed treatment from a neurologist, and brain injury specialists, they refused proper medical help for him for years.
The conditions under which my son was living in this hospital are detailed in a lawsuit filed in 2018. The suffering of many disabled patients there is now public knowledge. But when I first met Johanna she immediately took everything that I said seriously and also everything my son said very seriously. Within weeks she had our case up to the attorney general’s office. She was able to gather all the top officials of the DMHAS in a conference room where she detailed how they were to respond to my son’s condition.
She had his treatment team changed, she had his medications reduced she got rights for him that had been denied and she was not afraid to say everything that was needed to say. She gave power to my voice as his only advocate and she did it with grace and style.
Remarkably, she had my son brought out of state to a proper neurological facility, an actual Neurological Rehabilitation Institute where he began to thrive within weeks and is now in the discharge process. Johanna continues to represent my son as we go through the placement process. I feel secure in the knowledge that she will never allow my son to be placed in an improper setting ever again.
Johanna has always been forthcoming and available for our family. I passionately believe that she is a tremendous force with all the right motives for anyone who is disabled and needs services, be it educationally or medically. She has a kind and generous spirit and my son respects her and has great affection for her, as do I and his two brothers. We believe she saved his life. I only wish we knew her earlier in our ordeal.
We trust that as his representation Johanna will make sure his placement, as he returns to New Jersey, will be the most appropriate one.
Johanna is a highly skilled, responsible and dedicated attorney. We highly recommend her.
– MARY BRADY-MORAN