Autism is many different things, and the people who are on the spectrum are often as unique as the varying levels of autism itself.
Enter 13-year-old Joshua Beckford. At the age of two he had mastered reading and by three was speaking Japanese. While many professionals misdiagnosed certain forms of Autism early on as learning disabilities, cases like Joshua show it can be that exact opposite. So when Joshua’s father Knox heard that Oxford University offered a program for gifted children between 8-18, he signed up his then 6-year-old prodigy to see if he’d make the cut. He did, becoming the youngest student ever at the prestigious institution.
Joshua has what’s commonly referred to as high functioning autism (HFA). While HFA isn’t a medical term or official diagnosis, it’s a term used to describe those on the spectrum without an intellectual disability, but who may suffer difficulties in other areas such as social interaction and emotional expression.
In recent years it’s been uncovered that some of the greatest minds of history would have likely been autistic if the medical community in their time had known what we do today. Albert Einstein, Michelangelo, Mozart, and many more all presented signs and symptoms we now know to be found on the spectrum.
Although he’s already accomplished more than most of us could ever dream to achieve, Joshua now dreams of becoming a neurosurgeon and shows no signs of resting on his laurels. He also serves as the face of the National Autistic Society’s Black and Minority campaign, highlighting the challenges minorities face when attempting to find support and services relating to autism. In 2017, Joshua was named one of the 30 most remarkable people in the world with Autism. In January of this year, he was appointed an ambassador Boys Mentoring Advocacy Network, an organization that provides educational opportunities for children in Africa.
The brilliant Mr. Beckford is also penning a children’s book on Egypt, a locale the young scholar has been fascinated by for much of his life.
A genius, a role model, and an example for those young and old, Joshua Beckford is an inspiration and a reminder that each person is unique. Finding ways to highlight and bring out that individualism is often the key to fully discovering an individual’s best self and helping them to share it with the world.