Steven Dodd’s LA Journey

Different not Disabled

Steven Dodd is a 38 year old guy from Plymouth who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, but that has not stopped him from doing amazing work, not only locally, but internationally as well.

We first met Steven in 2013 following an event at Plymouth Mind about Autism. Our team of volunteers then went to Bath to watch him compete in a Special Olympics Games for Swimming, where Steven again proved himself competing for swimming for the first time and receiving a bronze medal – see photos below.

Steven Dodd Bath 2013 Medal Steven Dodd podium Bath 2013

2010 Bowlathlon

As recently as 2010 Steven and his sister held a “Bowlathlon” in Plymouth to raise money for poverty stricken communities in Kosovo. They raised money for Smile International that provides aid in the Balkans region. In fact, Steven actually travels each year to Kosovo to help deprived and disabled people in Kosovo. In 2009 he “bonded” with one young woman who had not spoken in 10 years, following a hand grenade attack on her house, that killed her father. By the end of his visit, she spoke for the first time in over 10 years.

2010 – Prime Minister Question Time at Westminster

In March 2010 Steven spent 3 days with Plymouth MP, Gary Streeter, in Westminster and attended Prime Minister’s Question Time live in the House of Commons as part of an Autism awareness campaign about employment discrimination that people with learning disabilities suffer from. Steven has held many volunteering positions but has never had a permanent job. As Gary Streeter said: “Steven is a tenacious fundraiser and has such a great contribution to make and is passionate and enthusiastic about everything he does. Working alongside him was an absolute pleasure. It is vital that people with autism get the support they need to fulfil their potential and be given employment.”

In addition to his campaigning work on behalf of NAS (National Autistic Society) and helping the disadvantaged in Kosovo, Steven also finds time to raise funds locally, such as for raising enough money to pay for the training of a guide dog, for a local blind person.

Campaigning and Fundraising are not his only talents! Steven took part in his first ever Kayaking Event in Nottingham in June 2013 and won 4 golds and an automatic place in the World Special Olympics being held in Los Angeles in 2015. He has also qualified for the swimming selection national finals event to be held in Bath at the end of August 2013.

Steven is a testimony to the fact that people with autism are not disabled, but different. I hope that this nomination will help raise awareness of autism and be a positive image that can inspire everyone that life is what you make of it, and not what it has dealt out to you.

The stories about Steven are enough to write a book about and a movie for which it is impossible to have written a script. If anyone deserves recognition, it is Plymouth’s special Olympian, Steven Dodd.

Here are some of the headlines that Steven has attracted in the past few years:


Special Olympian Steven Dodd’s haul of medals clinches World Games place

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

PLYMOUTH Special Olympian Steven Dodd’s determination to succeed has won him a haul of kayaking gold medals, a whole new set of admirers and a place at the World Games in 2015.

Despite never having competed in any sport before, the 38-year-old took to the water so successfully at the national tournament in Nottingham, he has qualified to compete in Los Angeles in two years’ time.

steven dodd gold medals

MEDAL POWER: Steven Dodd (right in picture) is presented with his gold medals by Special Olympian Bob Bilson

Dodd, who has learning difficulties, exceeded all expectations – except his own, apparently – as he came away with a set of personal bests with first places in the 500m, 200m and 500m K2 events at Nottingham’s National Water Sports Centre.

It was a sequence of firsts for the Special Olympics Plymouth and District rookie as in the K2 race he was paired with Bristol’s Stella Jelley, whom he had never met before and had nothing but praise for, in an event in which neither had taken part in.

SOPD’s Maureen Stockdale hailed Dodd’s achievement as ‘amazing’ and said it again proved that given a target, athletes with disabilities were as ‘capable of succeeding as anyone else’.

She said: “Steven has done a fantastic thing – not just for himself – but also as a role model for the Special Olympic movement.

“Steven was single-mindedly determined to do the best that he possibly could do, even though he had never so much as sat in a kayak before being given the challenge.

“We were all blown away by how well he did and it’s a tribute to his spirit and his efforts.

“Steven, though, was helped by some fantastic people and clubs in the city, notably Tamar Canoe Club and Plymouth Amateur Rowing Club, who helped with a course and his training.

“As an organisation, we’d like to thank both of those clubs and also Kayak and Paddles, in Ivybridge, who loaned Steven a kayak for the tournament.”

Dodd will also compete at the Special Olympics national finals at Bath in August.

SOPD’s bowlers also achieved success, who retained the County Shield at the Great Western Bowls event in Bodmin, while their five-a-side football team won a bronze medal at the Special Olympics event in Cullompton.

Read more:


AN AUTISTIC man and his sister are holding a 12-hour bowlathon to raise money for poverty-stricken communities in Kosovo.

Fundraisers Steven and Jackie Dodd, of Plymouth, are inviting people to take part in the charity event at Tenpin in Coxside on Sunday, May 23.

Steven & Jackie Bowlathlon

FUNDRAISING: Steven Dodd and sister Jackie

The siblings are organising a range of events for Smile International, which provides aid in the Balkans territory. Steven, who has Asperger Syndrome, travels to Kosovo each year to help disabled and deprived people in Kosovo. His next trip will be in October when he and Jackie plan to do a sponsored 20-mile mountain trek before helping out at the country’s Smile Centre.
Steven, aged 35, of Cattedown, who also campaigns for the National Autistic Society, said: “I’ve been to Kosovo four times and I love being able to help people there. “I want to continue to help them in any way, shape or form I can.”

Jackie, of St Jude’s, a solicitor, said: “Each year, my brother raises money for and goes to Kosovo with Smile International to help provide aid and missionary work to those who are far less fortunate in a country that has been so badly affected by war and subsequent poverty. “He helps people rebuild their lives and communities. “Just last year, he was able to bond with a young woman who had not spoken a word for 10 years following a hand grenade attack on her house, which sadly killed her father. By the end of his visit, she spoke.”

Smile supports local churches, centres and schools, and delivers aid and medical provisions.

Jackie, aged 29, said: “Without this help, children would simply not be able to attend school and people would not be able to access medical help. “Smile desperately needs money to be able to continue their work — so off we are going. All the money we raise is sent directly to Smile.”

Tenpin, at the Barbican Leisure Park, has donated the use of four bowling alleys for 12 hours — from 10am until 10pm — on May 23. All are welcome to attend the event, which will include a raffle and other fundraising events.



30 MARCH 2010

Autism campaigner teams up with local MP at Westminster

Steven Dodd, from Plymouth, has Asperger syndrome and has just completed three days work experience with Devon South West MP Gary Streeter (15th-17th March). The duo are backing a National Autistic Society(NAS) campaign to stop adults with autism being written-off by the employment and benefits system.

NAS research shows that just 15%* of adults with autism are in full time paid employment in the UK. Like many people with autism Steven wants to work, but has experienced great difficulty finding a job, due to inadequate support and misunderstandings related to his condition. He has held several voluntary positions but has never had a permanent paid job.

Whilst at Westminster, Steven (34) provided administrative support to Mr Streeter’s team, attended several meetings with the MP and watched Prime Minister’s Question Time live in the House of Commons.

He said; “They worried I would get bored but I had a fantastic time. It was inspiring and exciting to be able to see how politics works from the inside. What politicians do can have a huge effect on the lives of people with autism so I would like to thank Gary Streeter MP for his support. There are not nearly enough disabled MPs so I am thinking about a future career in politics. For now, I hope I have raised awareness of what people with autism can do with the right help. I just want to be able to work and be as independent as I can be.”

Gary Streeter MP said; “Steven is well known in my constituency for being a tenacious fundraiser. He has such a great contribution to make and is so passionate and enthusiastic about everything that he does. Working alongside him was an absolute pleasure and I was delighted to be able to offer him the opportunity. It is absolutely vital that people with autism get the help and support they need to find employment and fulfil their potential and are supported financially when they cannot work.”  The NAS Don’t write me off campaign found a third of people with autism – that is around 100,000 – currently live without a job and without benefits; many are forced to rely on family and friends as a result.

The charity is campaigning for a better understanding of autism across all Jobcentre Plus staff and new measures to make the employment and benefits system fair for people with the disability.

To find out more visit:




Steven paddles to Olympic spot

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Steven Getting Medals

Steven Dodd paddled to success at Nottingham and now can look forward to competing in the Special Olympics in Los Angeles in 2015.

EARLIER this summer, at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham, Plymouth’s Steven Dodd achieved great success by qualifying for the kayaking event at the 2015 Special Olympics.
It means that Steven is now looking forward to taking part in the event which will be held in Los Angeles.
Steven, a member of the Plymouth and District Special Olympics group, set up by Alan and Maureen Stockdale for people with learning difficulties,
Steven and the rest of the group train at Meadowlands swimming pool.
The 37-year-old has also qualified for the swimming competition – with colleagues Tina and David — at the UK’s Special Olympics National Games, held at the end of August this year.
Steven and his team mates and coaches (the two Wendys) would like to thank everyone at Meadowlands swimming pool in Tavistock for their support, and for letting the team train there.


A newspaper is encouraging people to get into the Olympic spirit by getting fit, slimming down and stopping smoking.

The Plymouth based Herald’s 12-month loveLIFE campaign hopes to help get people fitter, healthier and happier.

The paper is asking everyone to “donate” to the campaign however many miles they move, steps they dance, pounds they lose or cigarettes they quit.

The overall aim is to accumulate a million quit cigarettes, a million miles through running and walking, a million dance steps and 100,000LBS in weight lost.

Editor Bill Martin said: “This is the most exciting campaign The Herald has ever launched. We want to show just how inspirational and positive this city is.

“Like many cities, we do face some serious health issues, but there is an incredible amount of work going on already to tackle this through fitness and exercise.

“I know there are thousands of people in Plymouth already leading active lifestyles, and loving it. We want them to tell us what they’re doing and sign up to the campaign so we can celebrate their efforts.

“But we also want those who aren’t so active to join the loveLIFE campaign, and discover how easy and fun it can be to lead a healthier lifestyle.”

He added that the opening of a new £46m leisure centre meant the next 12 months were going to be very exciting for Plymouth and would provide a real opportunity to make a difference to the city’s overall health.

Since the campaign launch in October the paper has attracted £110k in sponsorship revenue and the paper covered a number of stories about people taking part.

These include autistic man Steven Dodd, a canoeist who will contribute miles to the scheme as part of his training for the Special Olympics in 2013, and a couple who quit smoking after 50 years following a health scare


Different Not Disabled – Wikipedia

“Different Not Disabled” (DND) – it is something that Wikipedia has picked up on that some researchers and people with Asperger’s have advocated a shift in attitudes toward the view that it is a difference, rather than a disability that must be treated or cured.  Certainly, the feedback from Plymouth Mind’s recent Autism consultation day, echoes this thought.  They are not ASD but DND!


APJ Project Update July 2015

Stephen has raised funds to achieve his dream of competing in Los Angeles 2015 Special Olympics! The event takes place July/August 2015.

Steven Dodd in Los Angeles

As counts down to the start of the Special Olympics World Games on July 25-Aug. 2 in Los Angeles, athletes, families and volunteers are sharing their stories with us. The following is a blog from Special Olympics athlete Steven Dodd.

“Thank you very much for letting me write this blog for Special Olympics World Games. I would like to take you on my journey.

I have taken part in swimming and kayaking for many years. I train at least three times a week at the Plymouth & District club in South West England. Last year, I was raising money in the community and was told I was going to Los Angeles for the Special Olympics. I couldn’t believe it. I have never been to America.”