HE’S just 21, became a gold-winning ice-skater in a matter of months, and his dream is to be part of “Disney on Ice”: Harrison’s Joshua Gordon is about to wow spectators at the Australian Winter Festival.
When work commitments led Randall and Anita Gordon to move to Canberra in 2007, their son found the move difficult. Diagnosed 11 years ago with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, intellectual impairment and Level 6 speech-language impairment, Joshua had to leave behind his special school in Queensland and the friends he’d made, and try to settle into a different environment – not easy for somebody who thrives on familiarity and stability.
“He was apart from his friends, who were special like him, and he wouldn’t associate or mix with new people,” says Anita.
Looking for something to pique her son’s interest, Anita took him to Phillip ice rink, where he at first showed an interest in ice hockey. He was told he’d need to learn to skate first, so he set about doing so, passing 10 Aussie Skate Badges in six weeks’ of lessons.
Seven months later, Joshua represented Australia at the NZ National Figure Skating Championships, and brought home a gold medal in the Special Olympics section, the first Australian to do so.
In 2008, he won first prize in the Technical Preliminary division in the mainstream competition in the mainstream competition at the Summer Trophy in Brisbane; he’s now attained senior level in dance and has performed in humorous artistics. The ACT Ice Skating Association has called his achievements “amazing”.
“I want to be able to perform, be in shows, be in ‘Disney on Ice’,” says Josh, who adds that his favourite Disney film is the movie starring Goofy: “I used to watch it all the time when I was a kid, and still do.”
He says he loves his ability to make people smile when skating, and “acting, being funny”.
There’s even talk of his competing in the 2014 Winter Olympics – “If I’m ready for it, I’ll go for it,” Josh says.
“Part of the reason he progresses so quickly, they say, is because of his autism,” Anita told “CityNews”. “He just has no fear: He doesn’t hesitate, he just jumps into it. He’s a perfectionist.”
Joshua’s just been given a big break: He’s performing in the Australian Winter Festival, which has just begun its Brisbane leg, and which will then move on to Bondi, Sydney and Melbourne.
“It’s the most fabulous opportunity for a kid with a disability; he’s doing the opening and closing solo. And he’s starting in broken-down boots tied together with tape – he needs to have them custom-made because he’s got an unusual foot.”
This puts Josh at greater risk of injury when he comes down from a jump, but he’s not perturbed, says Anita: “He said: ‘If I get accepted into “Disney on Ice” I’d still have to do the show no matter what,’ and this is the same.”
His parents recently held an appeal to help fund Joshua’s training, as Disability ACT ended its financial support in January.
“Mum and dad are going bankrupt slowly, but it’s full steam ahead anyway,” Anita laughs. “What else do you do? Do you say no when you’ve found that your child, who five years ago you wondered what was going to happen to him in life, all of a sudden just shines?”