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Climate Activist: Asperger's Is a Superpower

'Many ignorant people still see it as ... something negative'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 3, 2019 8:27 AM CDT
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Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, sails into New York harbor aboard the Malizia II, on Aug. 28, 2019.   (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
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(Newser) – A teenage climate activist nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and named among the world's best leaders credits some of her success to her "superpower": Asperger's syndrome. The condition on the autism spectrum "sometimes makes me a bit different from the norm," tweets 16-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden, who will attend a UN climate summit in New York following a two-week trip from England in a zero-emissions yacht, per the Guardian. "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," she says. She was diagnosed with the syndrome four years ago; it's marked by highly-focused interests, sensory sensitivity, and difficulties in social interactions.

But "given the right circumstances, being different is a superpower," says Greta. She describes a time when she had "no energy, no friends and I didn't speak to anyone. I just sat alone at home, with an eating disorder." But "all of that is gone now, since I have found a meaning," she writes. "When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go. And then you know you're winning!" Last month, the activist specifically addressed Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt, who wrote that he'd "never seen a girl so young and with so many mental disorders treated by so many adults as a guru," per ABC Australia. "I am indeed 'deeply disturbed'" by "these hate and conspiracy campaigns," Greta responded—though Bolt has kept up his attacks. (Read more Asperger's Syndrome stories.)

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