Senior continues winning battle against sensory disorder

Senior Cole Voelker was diagnosed with sensory integration disorder at birth, a disorder in which the brain struggles with responding to information from the senses.

Though time has assisted in Voelker’s overcoming of large aspects to his disorder, small issues continue to persist.

At a young age, Voelker was not able to develop at the same pace as other kids his age. Functions that seem natural for many, came difficult for Voelker.

“As a kid I was did not speak, run, eat or make facial expressions very well. I had to go to a doctor to help me figure out how to do these basic things for four years,” Voelker said.

Not only did Voelker’s disorder have major impact on daily functions, interaction with other kids became an everyday battle on the playground.

“I didn’t have the best coordination at the time, so I was often made fun of. I dreaded kickball and feared being chosen to be ‘it’ in tag because I could never catch anybody. My body was slow to react to everything happening around me.”

Voelker’s inability to be quickly responsive affected his social life from a young age, making it highly difficult to make friends.

“Since I was slow to react to what other kids were trying to say to me, I was quickly deemed as shy and weird. Back then I had a hard time socializing with my friends. It was so nerve wracking for me to just ask a simple question to one of my friends like, ‘Can I play?’ or, ‘Do you want to come over after school?’’’ Voelker said.

In addition, in the struggle to develop relationships, Voelker was advised to avoid physical activities and participation in sports a young age.

“When I was in training to get my senses on track, my doctor told me I would never be able to play sports. If you knew me well in middle school, you would know that my life revolved around sports, and I did really well in all of them as well. My parents ignored this comment by our doctor. They believed I could get past the dysfunction.”

Today, Voelker works to improve many of the setbacks he and his family prepared for, and he overcomes the everyday complications he continues to battle.

“Today, sports is something I definitely have improved on and can compete really well in games like basketball, football, soccer and baseball. However, socially I have had to work harder than anything else because being social  is not something you learn overnight. Talking with new and unfamiliar people is still very awkward for me. I cope with this by talking with my friends and family and learning through their interactions with new people.”

Despite the problems Voelker’s disorder has put and continues to put in his way, Voelker strives for self-improvement and has learned to accept this small aspect of him.

“Overall, all it did was slow down who I was to become. Today I am somewhat athletic and can able to socialize well with my friends and family. Although I still react slowly to things and have my preferences to how certain things should function, I am just as normal has anyone else on earth.”

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