Knox Daniel realized his son was different when he was just 10 months old and could already memorize letters on a keyboard. The child prodigy went on to become the youngest person ever to attend Oxford at age 6. In 2017, the young scholar Joshua Beckford, now 13, was recognized as one of the top 30 remarkable people in the world with autism.
With his whole life still ahead of him, the young teen from Tottenham, United Kingdom, sets his sights high. He wants to be a neurosurgeon … and also save the world.
“I want to save the earth,” says Beckford. “I want to change the world and change peoples’ ideas to doing the right things about earth.”
Beckford’s quest for knowledge began, unbelievably, as a baby, starting with letters on a keyboard and moving on to colors, according to his dad. At age 3, he learned to read fluently, using phonics, and speak Japanese. He taught himself to touch-type on a computer before he could even write.
Raising a high-functioning autistic child comes with its challenges, Beckford’s dad points out. His son was home-schooled, for his abilities were too advanced for public school. Beckford “doesn’t like children his own age and only likes teenagers and adults,” Daniel explains. What the young scholar showed was a keen interest in Egypt and writing a children’s book about that ancient civilization.
The young man has been primed so well in human anatomy that he is already giving PowerPoint presentations to audiences of 200 to 3,000 people at community fundraising events.
Beckford has his dad to thank for nurturing some of that gift.
“Since the age of four, I was on my dad’s laptop and it had a body simulator where I would pull out organs,” explained the young man.
Eventually, Daniel learned of a program at Oxford for children aged 8 to 13, and although Beckford was just 6 years old, the dad enrolled him into the collage, hoping to challenge his bright, young mind.
And, despite being two years younger than normal applicants, he was accepted, making him the youngest student ever to attend the prestigious university. He took courses in philosophy and history via their online program for gifted children. Beckford got distinctions in all of his classes and was recognized with a certificate.
Not only does the young scholar shine academically, he’s also a humanitarian and environmental advocate. The autistic teen supports charities and fundraising efforts for minorities with autism, becoming the face for National Autistic Society’s Black and Minority campaign, highlighting difficulties minorities with autism face getting support and services. In March 2019, he was appointed the Low Income Families Education (LIFE) Support ambassador for the Boys Mentoring Advocacy Network in parts of Africa and the United Kingdom. They will participate in a mentoring session and the Father And Son Together (FAST) initiative event in Nigeria in August 2019.
Adding to his lists of accolades, Beckford partook in the TEDx International Conference in Vienna and presented a poem titled “Saving Mother Earth,” advocating for saving the environment; he won the Positive Role model award for his age at the National Diversity Awards in 2017.