According to Autism Speaks: “Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the United States today.
We know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, most influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Because autism is a spectrum disorder, each person with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges.
The ways in which people with autism learn to think and problem-solve can range from highly skilled to severely challenged. Some people with ASD may require significant support in their daily lives, while others may need less support and, in some cases, live entirely independently.
Several factors may influence the development of autism, and it is often accompanied by sensory sensitivities and medical issues such as gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures or sleep disorders, as well as mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression and attention issues.”
At age six, despite high-functioning autism, Joshua sets record as the youngest person ever to attend the prestigious ivy league Oxford University.
He received a certificate of excellence from an online learning platform for gifted children. He aced all the courses involved. Now aged 13, the brilliant boy dreams of being a topnotch neurosurgeon.
Recently, he was name one of the 30 top most remarkable people in the world with autism who have significantly impacted the society.
His proud father Knox Daniel discorvered the unique learning abilities in his son when he was only 10 months. Daiel remembers sitting his son on the lap;
“I started telling [Joshua] what the letters on the keyboard were and I realized that he was remembering and could understand. So, if I told him to point to a letter, he could do it… Then we moved on to colors.”
Beckford was three when he fluently used phonics. He learnt Japanese before he could learn to write and even taught himself to touch-type on a computer.
Beckford says, “Since the age of four, I was on my dad’s laptop and it had a body simulator where I would pull out organs.”
When his farher learned about the oxford university program specifically designed for gifted students between age eight and thirteen; he decided to challenge his son. In 2013, he entered him into the programme even though he was younger than the age prescribed.
Beckford went on to become the youngest student ever to be accepted. When he was enrolled, he chose history and philosophy which he both aced.
He was also homeschooled for the entire curriculum since he was considered too mentally advanced for a standard curriculum. During his studies, he particularly took interest in Egyptian culture and is currently working on a chidren’s book about the history of the ancient nation.
Beckford is also the face of the National Society’s black and minority campaign.
“Beckford also wants to raise awareness about some of the challenges that people with autism face. Cases of autism are often very unique, and the conditions often vary from person to person. However, it is common for people living with autism to have a mixture of challenges and gifts, that are simply a result of thinking a bit differently than other people.”
The young boy also raises funds for three autism charities and has his own campaign to save
“Parenting a child with high-functioning autism comes with its own challenges. [Joshua] doesn’t like loud noises and always walks on his tip toes and he always eats from the same plate, using the same cutlery, and drinks from the same cup. ” said his father.
Yet the father has so muh faith in his son. He believes he has a bright future and is very proud of his achievements.
Beckford’s love for nature is not dying anytime soon.
“I want to save the earth. I want to change the world and change peoples’ ideas to doing the right things about the earth,” he says.