One can’t have failed to have noticed the awareness surrounding young climate activist Greta Thunberg, recently.
The sixteen year old Swede and Nobel Peace Prize nominee has been thrust into the limelight over the last few months, since she initiated a weekly school strike to protest about the lack of Government action to address issues surrounding global climate change.
Greta is autistic, and is probably the most famous advocate for autism that the community has ever seen. She’s been on national TV news broadcasts, and in national newspaper articles and at TED Talks, and doesn’t shy away from talking about her Asperger’s diagnosis.
What’s fascinating is that autism is clearly a driving force behind her passion for redressing climate change. Greta Thunberg reportedly suffered from depression and issues with eating (not divulged by Greta as an eating disorder, but linked to her depression), aged eleven, in what seems to represent a classic example of autistic burnout. She stopped (for the most part) eating and talking, but then turned her life around. Turning her despair over the environment to action, she encouraged her family to support various changes to reduce their carbon footprint, and started making a stand.
Asked for an interview in DPA International about how her autism affects her work for the climate, Greta states: “Very positively. I’ve begun to realize that I can focus a lot more than most. But I can also get extremely tired when I run out of energy. If I hadn’t had Asperger’s, I’d have sought other routes.
Now I don’t do too well in groups, and work a lot more on my own than many other activists who want to start organizations and write charters and rules. That’s why #FridaysForFuture is a hashtag and a movement that puts the focus on research. “
Greta Thunberg doesn’t look like most teenagers on TV
What’s striking about Greta Thunberg, and is a big part of her media appeal, is that although she is sixteen, she looks much younger. Again, this is perhaps linked to her autism. Her hair in sensory friendly pigtails, wearing practical, comfy clothes, with no hint of make up or the interest to wear any, Greta doesn’t look like most teenagers on TV.
Her slim frame and short stature, attributed to her stunted growth at the time of her depressive episode, add to the childlike appearance; although her oratory is incredibly mature.
Some commentators, perhaps not knowing about her autism (or caring), have noted her ‘passive’ expression, and often deadpan delivery.
But this is a young woman who, as a Swede, is speaking in a second language. And Greta’s autism will affect her facial expressions and delivery, with ‘Aspies’ commonly lacking the facial expressions and reciprocal movements of their neurotypical peers, and often talking with a monotone type voice.
Autists are famed for their black and white thinking styles, obsessive interests, straight, truthful talking, and a sense of justice; there’s surely no better example of these traits than with Greta Thunberg.
She’s an inspiration to so many people and a great ambassador for the #actuallyautistic community.
A little disclaimer – here at Spectra.blog we don’t claim to be experts about Autism Spectrum Disorders / Conditions; the information we post here is based purely on our own exposure and experiences. We’d also love your feedback on our posts!
Read more about autistic influencers…
Also published on Medium.