Joshua Beckford is far from an ordinary child. He first made international headlines at the age of six as the youngest person to ever attend the prestigious Oxford University. At University, the little genius took a course in philosophy and history and passed both with distinction. He is such an unbelievable person that, although he just turned 13, he has already been recognized as one of the top 30 most remarkable people in the world with autism who have impacted society.
Knox Daniel, his father, said that he could tell his child was gifted before he turned a year old. He explained how, when his son was just 10 months old:
“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.”
By the age of three, he was already able to read fluently in English and had moved on to learning Japanese and other foreign languages. His father has had to home-school him because he is too advanced for a standard curriculum.
He now plans to someday be a neurosurgeon. “Since the age of four, I was on my dad’s laptop, and it had a body simulator where I would pull out organs,” said Beckford. As for now, he is working on his first book, which he says will be a children’s book that focuses on Ancient Egypt.
Beckford also cares a lot about the world. He plans to use his gifts to make the world a better place. He says:
“I want to save the earth. I want to change the world and change peoples’ ideas to doing the right things about earth.”
Aside from his academics and his dreams of saving the world, he also wants to raise awareness about some of the challenges that people with autism face. He was explaining in a live interview (in front of thousands) for TED Talks that cases of autism are often very unique. The conditions vary from person to person. However, there are two things that all people living with autism have in common. One, they all have a mixture of challenges and gifts; and two, what makes them different is simply the result of thinking a bit differently than other people.
In the UK alone, there are around 700,000 people on the autism spectrum, which is more than 1 in 100, and it is likely that there are many more who go undiagnosed. Furthermore, according to a 2011 study, Autism and the African-American Community:
“Evidence demonstrates that although rates of diagnosis for autism occur at the same rates in all racial groups, diagnosis in African-American children occurs later than in White children. As a result, African-American children may require longer and more intensive intervention.”
This is partly why he is now the face for the National Autistic Society’s Black and Minority campaign. Since he is a person with high-functioning autism, the young child helps to highlight the challenges minority groups face in their attempt to acquire autism support and services.
He is doing such a good job with this that a couple of years ago, Beckford won The Positive Role Model Award for Age at The National Diversity Awards, an event which celebrates the excellent achievements of grass-root communities that tackle the issues in today’s society. He is described as one of the most brilliant boys in the world by the National Diversity Awards – because he designs and delivers power-point presentations on Human Anatomy at Community fund-raising events to audiences ranging from 200 to 3,000 people. Imagine that!
His father admits that even though his child is gifted, some social situations and even aspects of home life that most people take for granted can be very challenging. He explained:
“He doesn’t like children his own age and only likes teenagers and adults. Parenting a child with high-functioning autism comes with its own challenges. He 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.”
This brilliant boy should reach his goal of being named Doctor within the next two years, proving that no obstacle is too great to keep you from achieving greatness. Enjoy the following video of Joshua’s TEDx Talk in Vienna: The World Through The Eyes of a Child…it’s really cute!