I toured a local high school this morning and then spent the hour drive to work trying my best not to cry.

We’ve spent most of Cole’s life fighting in one way or another for something or other. Very little comes easy in the lives of children with special needs, especially when you want your child to experience as typical a childhood as possible. We’ve never wanted Cole’s disabilities to prevent him from experiencing anything that interests him. He may have unique ways to approaching things, but we’ve been fairly successful in providing him with a fairly happy, rich, normal (ish) life.

It feels like it all comes to an end with high school. The tours tend to highlight all of the amazing academic and elective programs that each school offers and the opportunities for preparing for college and glowing futures. Fabulous programs are available to good to great students, but only those who do not have disabilities and may require support to access the curriculum. Students like Cole are relegated to special day classes where their opportunities are vastly limited.

Never mind that he’s managed to get through nine years of school with the same kids who will be advancing into high school programs where they have a world of exciting classes to choose from and clubs, electives and sports. If he were to attend the school that I toured today, he’d be left with access only to special day classes that are on the first level because the school is not wheelchair accessible (no functioning elevators in 2015!).

Physical space seems to a prevalent problem with most high schools. The desk spacing is so tight that there is barely room for a student to slide down a row to their seat, and definitely no chance for a wheelchair to fit beyond the doorway. How is that legal? There’s an obvious disinterest in any form of inclusion at most high schools.

My kid may not have the ability to complete high school in four years, however, that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have the ability to eventually complete it, and move on to college. I can’t say for certain what his future holds, but I can say that without the opportunity to have access to a decent education it won’t be as bright as it could be, as it should be.

But it doesn’t seem like anyone is even trying. So now, tears…I held back as long as I could.

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