Greta Thunberg may be a leading voice when it comes to environmental issues, but she seems to be establishing herself as a budding disability advocate as well.
Over Labor Day weekend, the teenage Swedish climate activist published an Instagram post responding to criticism of her appearance and actions. In the post, the 16-year-old Nobel Peace Prize nominee noted that she has Asperger’s syndrome and wrote that her autism “means I’m sometimes a bit different from the norm. And — given the right circumstances — being different is a superpower.”
In April, Thunberg also referred to Asperger’s as “a gift” while speaking to the BBC.
On Tuesday, Thunberg was asked during an interview with “CBS This Morning” to elaborate on what she meant when she called her autism a “superpower” and “a gift.”
Thunberg responded that neurodiversity has its perks.
“It makes you think differently. And especially in such a big crisis like this one we need to think outside the box,” she explained, referring to her climate activism. “We need to think outside our current system, that we need people that think outside the box and who aren’t like everyone else.”
Although the teen has proven that her unique way of thinking is powerful enough to spark worldwide protests, not every person with autism likes being associated with having a superpower.
Thanks to films like “Rain Man” and TV shows like “The Good Doctor” people with autism are often linked to a common trope in which they’re all assumed to be savants.
“The idea that all autistic people are geniuses, or that they all have savant abilities such as extraordinary memory, is a myth,” autistic writer Karl Knights wrote in a 2017 opinion essay for The Guardian that discusses how the “Rain Man” character Raymond Babbitt still affects the lives of autistic people today. “The autistic community is more than Raymond Babbitt.”