Tue, Sep 03, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Greta Thunberg to critics: Asperger’s a ‘superpower’

The Guardian

Greta Thunberg arrives at UN headquarters in New York City on Friday last week to participate in the Youth Climate Strike.

Photo: AFP

Activist Greta Thunberg has spoken about her Asperger’s syndrome diagnosis after she was criticized over the condition, saying that it makes her “different,” but that she considers it a “superpower.”

Thunberg, the public face of the school climate strike movement, said on Twitter that before she started her climate action campaign, she had “no energy, no friends and I didn’t speak to anyone. I just sat alone at home, with an eating disorder.”

She said she had not been open about her diagnosis of being on the autism spectrum to “hide” behind it, but because she knew “many ignorant people still see it as an ‘illness,’ or something negative.”

“When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go. And then you know you’re winning!” she wrote, using the hashtag #aspiepower.

While acknowledging that her diagnosis has limited her before, she said that it “sometimes makes me a bit different from the norm” and that she sees being different as a “superpower.”

Asperger’s syndrome was named after the Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger who, in the 1940s, described some of its characteristics, including difficulties in social interaction, nonverbal communication and reading body language.

In 2013, Asperger’s was folded into the wider diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.

Tony Attwood, a world authority on Asperger’s, has said that people diagnosed are “usually renowned for being direct, speaking their mind, being honest and determined, and having a strong sense of social justice.”

Boys are more widely diagnosed than girls.

Thunberg was diagnosed four years ago.

She has acknowledged that her passion for her climate crisis work was partly down to viewing the world in stark terms.

In July, Thunberg hit back at the Australian News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt for writing a deeply offensive column that mocked her diagnosis.

He criticized her two-week trip across the Atlantic on a solar-powered yacht because, he said that “she refuses to fly and heat the planet with an airplane’s global warming gasses.”

Bolt repeatedly referred to Greta’s mental health, saying that she was “deeply disturbed.”

Thunberg responded by tweeting that she was “deeply disturbed” by the “hate and conspiracy campaigns” run by climate deniers such as Bolt.

On Friday, Thunberg was joined by crowds of US teenagers at a protest outside the UN headquarters in New York City following her transatlantic crossing.

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