Living with high-functioning autism, Joshua Beckford, from Tottenham, is a child with high-functioning autism. At the age of six, it was the youngest person ever to attend the prestigious Oxford University.
The amazing boy received a certificate of excellence after getting distinctions in all his courses which were part of an online learning platform for gifted children.
The wunderkind is now thirteen and dreams of becoming a neurosurgeon. He was recently listed in the top 30 most remarkable people in the world with Autism who have impacted society.
His father, Knox Daniel, discovered Joshua’s unique learning capability when he was only 10 months old, while he was sitting on his lap in front of the computer.
The child looked very interested in the keyboard, and Daniel started him what the letters on the keyboard were. He soon realized that he was remembering and could understand. Next, Daniel started telling him to point to a letter, and he could do it.
They then moved on to colors.
When Joshua was three, he could read fluently using phonics. He learned to speak Japanese and could even touch-type on a computer before he could learn to write.
Joshua remembers his father reading bedtime stories to him every night. He used to read his favorite book called I Am Cute, which is a story about a clever owl.
His father also bought him a real laptop computer when Joshua was two years old with lots of educational software and games.
“Since the age of four, I was on my dad’s laptop and it had a body simulator where I would pull out organs.”
At the age of 7, Joshua was diagnosed with Autism. Yet, he claims that it did not affect his motivation and goals, as his father explained to him that he was born with lots of gifts and he just learned differently from other people. Daniel also read him books to explain what Autism is.
In 2011, his father learned about a programme at Oxford University that was specifically aimed at children between the age of eight and thirteen.
He wrote to Oxford, hoping he would get admission, although he was younger than the prescribed age for the programme.
Fortunately, they gave Joshua the chance to enroll, and he became the youngest student ever accepted. He took a course in philosophy and history and passed both with distinction.
Joshua was home-schooled since he was too advanced for a standard curriculum. He had a keen interest in the affairs of Egypt throughout his studies, so he is working on a children’s book about the historic and ancient nation.
Moreover, Beckford also serves as the face of the National Autistic Society’s Black and Minority campaign. He hopes he would highlight the challenges minority groups face when attempting to acquire autism support and services.
In 2017, he won The Positive Role Model Award for Age at The National Diversity Awards, an event that celebrates the excellent achievements of grass-root communities that tackle the issues in modern society.
The brilliant boy was also appointed Low-Income Families Education (L.I.F.E) Support Ambassador for Boys Mentoring Advocacy Network in Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, and the United Kingdom.
BMAN Low Income Families Education (LIFE) Support was established to create educational opportunities for children from low-income families so that they have hope of positively contributing to a thriving society.
The boy said:
“I am pleased to be given the opportunity to work in partnership with BMAN LIFE to help inspire and provide educational opportunities for children in Africa to prepare for a bright future for the continent in the 21st Century.”
He also raises funds for three autism charities and is celebrated for his campaigns to save the environment. He said:
“I want to save the earth. I want to change the world and change people’s ideas to doing the right things about earth.”
He wrote the poem Saving Mother Earth at the TEDx International Conference in Vienna.
The youngster also designs and delivers powerpoint presentations on Human Anatomy at Community fundraising events to audiences ranging from 200 to 3,000 people.
The Duke of York, after meeting Joshua in 2017, posted one of his drawings on his personal Twitter account, and Joshua’s drawing of a cheetah now hangs in Buckingham Palace.
His father explains that parenting a child with high-functioning autism comes with its own challenges.
Since his brain is above most of his peers and even most adults, Joshua “doesn’t like children his own age and only likes teenagers and adults.”
“[Joshua] doesn’t like loud noises and always walks on his tiptoes and he always eats from the same plate, using the same cutlery, and drinks from the same cup.”
Yet, he is more than proud of the achievements of his son and believes he has a bright future ahead.
Joshua says he feels most free when drawing and using his imagination. He adds that he loves being a free spirit.
“I have my own mind and way of thinking. I don’t like to be told what to do.