Greta Thunberg is a powerhouse climate change activist. Thunberg is known internationally for her passionate, lively and emotional speeches about climate change. At only 16-years old Thunberg’s compelling words are shaking up world forums. Thunberg is also very open about her Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosis and even calls it her “super power”. In a series of tweets Thunberg shared,
When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go. And then you know you’re winning! I have Aspergers and that means I’m sometimes a bit different from the norm. And – given the right circumstances- being different is a superpower. #aspiepower…I’m not public about my diagnosis to “hide” behind it, but because I know many ignorant people still see it as an “illness”, or something negative. And believe me, my diagnosis has limited me before…Before I started school striking I had no energy, no friends and I didn’t speak to anyone. I just sat alone at home, with an eating disorder. All of that is gone now, since I have found a meaning, in a world that sometimes seems shallow and meaningless to so many people.”
News outlets and members of the autism community all over the world are acknowledging Thunberg as an advocate and voice for the individuals on the spectrum. Elizabeth Chuck from NBC News, interviewed Alexander Burke from Somerville, Massachusetts, who received his autism diagnosis in high school. Burke is now 34-years old and has a much better understanding of all of the social struggles he had and still has to go through on a daily basis. NBC News asked Burke what he thought about Thunberg, sharing that “I would have been ‘thrilled’ to have someone else with Asperger’s who I could look up to. But there aren’t many other people with Asperger’s that I know of, neither personally or in the public sphere…I think it is really inspirational.”
Burke now works for an autism organization as a development assistant, helping with fundraising. Burke told NBC News that seeing Thunberg stand up for her beliefs before the United Nations “is really thrilling.”
Collier Litel, 23, of Lake Charles, Louisiana, was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in seventh grade. Litel told NBC News “It means a lot that she’s willingly embraced Asperger’s Syndrome and talks about it openly,” Litel is graduating from college in May 2020 and is currently studying for the LSATS.
It is immensely important for public figures like Thunberg who are on the spectrum to speak out because it show’s other individuals on the spectrum that they can speak out for what they believe in and truly make a difference in our world.