A TEENAGER with autism had a very special birthday, when she scooped four medals in the Commonwealth Powerlifting Championship.

DJ, who is a student at Portfield School, run by Christchurch-based charity Autism Wessex, celebrated her 15th birthday while representing England at the event in Canada.

Powerlifting is a strength sport that consists of three lifts: squat, bench press, and deadlift. DJ, who lives in Kinson, won a bronze medal for squat, a silver medal for bench press, a bronze medal for deadlift and a further bronze medal overall for her category.

In total, she lifted 232.5kg, weighing just under 67kg herself.

In order to get to Canada, DJ met a fundraising target of £2,000, which she achieved with the help of match funding from Autism Wessex. She then spent her summer break training for the event, before returning to Portfield School for the new school term.

Autism Wessex chief executive Siún Cranny said: “DJ is a remarkable young person who faces daily challenges due to her autism, but this does not hold her back. Competing at a national level is no mean feat for anyone.

"DJ is an inspiration to all of the students at Portfield School and we hope other children with autism. I hope that DJ, the students at Portfield School and every young person with autism will continue to push the boundaries of what is possible."

Autism Wessex operates Portfield School, a specialist school providing education to children with autism and associated difficulties aged between 3 and 19. The charity also provides specialist support to anyone affected by autism across Dorset, Hampshire, and Somerset. To find out more, visit autismwessex.org.uk