Featured Services

Nelson Advocacy Inc. is an IEP Coaching and special education advocacy company. We coach and advocate for our clients in many ways.

Housing

Ray Nelson is a licensed REALTOR with Nest Realty in Fredericksburg. Ray works with residential, land, and commercial clients and properties.

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Special Education Coaching and Advocacy

Ray serves as a special education advocate for families of children with disabilities in public school systems across Virginia.

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Drum Circle Facilitation

Ray is a certified Drum Circle Facilitator and organizes drum circles for his community.

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What our clients say about us.

Here are some examples of what our clients think of our service.

My wife and I cannot recommend Ray enough. This was our first home buying experience and from the very first moment we met with Ray he made everything so easy. He gave sound advice, he was never pushy and no question we had was stupid. He took the time to make sure we knew exactly what we were doing every step of the way. Ray has a wealth of knowledge and was able to break things down for us in a way that was very easy to understand. My parents were so impressed with our experience that they are now looking to Ray to help them with their moving plans!

Johnny B.
Real Estate Client

Without Ray's help, my son would have drowned in an inappropriate environment. Instead, he is back to learning and loving school! Thank you!!!!

Amanda G
Special Education Advocacy Client

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Read up on our latest education advocacy news and tips!

Recent Blog Posts

Take a gander at our most recent blog posts.

Is Virtual School working for my child?

Hello y’all. It’s been a month of virtual school here in the Nelson household so I figured I would share my thoughts, observations, recommendations, and musings with everyone. Let’s start with our schedule.

First off, we are a little different than most as we have opted to reduce our son’s course load, choosing instead some intensive reading remediation. Our thought is that by focusing on his literacy this year in lieu of a couple classes we will create better overall education in future years. He is doing 4 classes instead of 8, which is okay with us because its much less complex.

Also, Raymond loves virtual learning. He is calmer, more focused, and less aroused from a sensory perspective. This lets him access his education more effectively, which makes his learning easier and more likely to stick. We won’t know that for sure until later in the year, but as of now he is retaining concepts and applying them well.

The downside is that he requires direct support from me or his mother during his school time. Yes, he has a one to one para, but she is also remote and cannot handle things in the environment. I’m talking about things like switching from app to app, managing a bunch of passwords, making sure the rights supplies are handy, and figuring out where to begin his work. It would make life easier were she able to be present, but that support also comes with a risk. At the moment, neither we nor the school division are comfortable with taking that risk.

So here are the problems I see so far. First, there are way too many sites to manage this stuff. Each teacher uses slightly different tools, or sites, which means more logins and passwords. Not that I want to discourage teachers from being creative about teaching and using whatever tool is necessary. However, each tool adds another burden to the student, many of whom are struggling already. Less is more.

I’m a professional and I have a list of websites I use for both of my businesses that are absolutely essential. However, I think the list of sites my son needs for school might outnumber them! Bear in mind that I am a 50-year-old man with a long history of working professionally. My son is an autistic teenager with no work experience and difficulty with executive functioning. How exactly could he be expected to manage this on his own? Why is a typical 16-year-old expected to manage this level of complexity? Its excessive and a waste of time. So, fewer sites is my first note.

My second note is this: SLOW THE HELL DOWN! Some of these teachers talk at light speed. In fact, I decided to help my son by copying down the work he needed to do. By the time I finished copying it down, the teacher had already started presenting her solutions! No way a typical kid had a chance to do that work before she started going through it. My son didn’t come close even with me acting as his scribe, and I write fast.

The real solution, though, is to have that work available before class for kids to print or copy in advance of the lesson. I’m a huge fan of teacher notes being given to kids in advance. Not just for kids who can’t write fast enough, but for all kids. Highlighting can work as well as selective note-taking if the skill is taught.

I could go on about this stuff for a while, but I’m limiting myself to three issues because otherwise this post would devolve into a complaint festival. My final issue is this weird authoritarian interaction I see in some classes. Like “turn on your monitor so I can see you’re here” or “everyone has to speak up at some point in the class or you won’t get participation credit.” Not every teacher does this, but enough of them do it that it deserves a mention.

Not everyone is proud of how their house looks. Some children do not have a secluded location to take their classes. Other kids might have parents sleeping because they work nights. The point is that educators don’t know what these kids are going through just to attend school. Just because my son can handle this doesn’t mean every other child out there can handle it. And my son can only handle it because my wife and I are privileged enough to buy a big enough house for him to work in, and can schedule our days to make sure we can spend time with him for school. Not every parent has that ability, and that is not judgement on my part. That is fact. So, find different ways to engage.

Some teachers have students use the “thumbs up” button for participation. Some have kids type in the chat for participation. Those are much better ways to engage everyone, as it’s a level playing field.

Despite the issues I’ve noted, I do feel like our teachers are doing the absolute best that they can. If this virtual education experiment doesn’t work, it is far more likely that lack of support on the ground level will be why. So be kind to your teachers, thank them for their efforts, and give them constructive feedback instead of complaints. I promise you that it will be easier to solve your problems that way.

If you want to talk about your kid specifically, sign up for one of my free 20-minute consultations. Happy learning!

DO NOT SIGN YOUR CHILD’S IEP!

I’m going to say this again loudly just to make sure everyone hears me.

DO NOT SIGN YOUR CHILD’S IEP!

I constantly receive information from my clients about what local school systems are doing. While some are doing the right thing, many are not. Some of the stories below will demonstrate why you don’t want to sign your child’s IEP right now, and may never want to sign one again.

One local school system has advised their case managers to push parents to sign IEP amendments without having an IEP meeting. This means the school will propose the new plan and expect the parents to agree without discussion, explanation, or the right to refuse the changes. Does that sound reasonable or fair?

Imagine you were buying a home. Because of the pandemic you were unable to view it in person, but you did see a few pictures and read a short description about the home. The seller asks you to send a $5,000 check in order to hold the house. Would you send them the money?

My guess is no. I certainly wouldn’t, and I have helped people buy and sell homes for 15 years. If your school district sends you an IEP amendment to sign without first having an IEP meeting, don’t sign it. Your child still has an IEP. The IEP in force right now would enter stay put status and the school would be responsible for delivering those services, either right now or in the future. That’s the way the law is written, and the school knows that.

Another local school district is putting information for 3 different settings into their IEPs. This is to make things “easier” as school status changes from virtual to hybrid to in-person. It does make things easier…for the school district. It does nothing for the parent, and in fact may violate the parents right to object to placement changes.

For example, imagine the school suddenly changed its status to full time in person school despite rising COVID-19 rates in the local area. If you signed this IEP, you would have to start taking your child to school EVEN IF YOU DISAGREED WITH THE SCHOOL BOARD’S DECISION. Even if it was unsafe, you could not keep your child out of school. At that point, if you didn’t send your kid to school he or she would be marked as absent. That opens the door for truancy actions and other unpleasantness.

My main question here is “what is stay-put placement with three different settings?” Followed closely by “can you legally agree to 3 different settings? I don’t know, because I’m not a judge or a lawyer. That said, I like simplicity. I advise folks to agree to one placement, not two or three. So again, DO NOT SIGN YOUR CHILD’S IEP.

SO WHAT CAN I DO IF I DON’T SIGN THE IEP?

You can write a partial acceptance letter. Write down what you agree with and what you don’t, and use that to put services in place. It is legal, and VDOE has guidance for the schools advising them that it is a valid form of IEP acceptance.

If you need help drafting a partial acceptance letter, I just added that to my services in my IEP Coach Shop. Click on this link if you want me to assist you in drafting a good letter. That will take you to my shop, where I’ll be adding products like this periodically. I opted to release this one first because I see this as a high demand item right now.

Good luck, and I’m here if you need me! Email me at Ray@NelsonAdvocacy.com if you want a free 20 minute consultation!

Major Announcements August 2020 Edition!

Nelson Advocacy August 2020 Banner

Major announcements today!

Hello all. I am overjoyed to announce these changes to my business model. I am always looking for new ways to serve my clients, and these changes will allow me to do an even better job for you.

The first announcement is that I am raising my rates. Effective immediately, advocacy services are $85 per hour. I held my rates down to $50 per hour as long as I could, but it is time for them to go up. If you are a current client and we have an ongoing action, there will be a grace period where we figure out how to make things work. Those decisions will be made case by case. For new clients, or returning clients I have not worked with in more than a year, the rate is $85 an hour. That means the initial 10 hour fee for a new case is $850 and the 4 hour per meeting fee is now $340. On the advocacy side, everything will work the same as it has in the past.

I do this so I have time to roll out my IEP coaching business. I recently completed the Master IEP Coach course, and I feel that this is a more effective way for me to pass on what I have learned to folks. I have developed many tools in my years as an advocate, and the coaching will allow me to share those tools and help parents take control of their IEP teams. IEP coaching is also more affordable, as it is $250 for 3 hours. That 3 hours is all person-to-person time. On the coaching side I will not charge for document review time. This is a pretty big win, as about half my time in the advocacy cases is spent reviewing documents or researching them.

There will be more announcements coming soon, but this is the first big one. Stay tuned for details on how to sign up for coaching. If you want a sample of what I’m working on for my folks or want to stay in the loop, click the link below and sign up with your email address. Happy advocating!

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