Greta Thunberg says ‘gift' of Asperger syndrome helps her see through environment 'lies'

‘It also makes me see things from outside the box’

Katie O'Malley
Tuesday 23 April 2019 17:40 BST
Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg tells Extinction Rebellion supporters 'humanity is at a crossroads'

Teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg has explained how the “gift” of living with Asperger syndrome helps her “see things from outside the box” when it comes to climate change.

In an interview with presenter Nick Robinson on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday, the 16-year-old environmental activist said the disorder helps her see things in “black and white”.

“It makes me different, and being different is a gift, I would say,” she told Robinson.

“It also makes me see things from outside the box. I don’t easily fall for lies, I can see through things.”

Asperger syndrome falls within the autism disorder spectrum, Autism NI explains.

Those who have been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome may not have the same learning disabilities that some people who have autism sometimes experience, such as difficulties or delays with speech.

However, some people with Asperger syndrome may still have some learning difficulties and can find it hard to comprehend or process language at times, the National Autistic Society (NAS) outlines.

Thunberg added that that if she had “been like everyone else”, she wouldn’t have started a school strike last year.

In August 2018, Thunberg started to skip school on Fridays to protest about climate change outside Sweden’s parliament with a hand-written sign that read “SCHOOL STRIKE FOR CLIMATE”. The teenager did not return to school until the Swedish general election on 9 September.

“I don’t think I would be interested in the climate at all, if I had been like everyone else,” she continued.

Greta Thunberg, founder of school strike movement, addresses Extinction Rebellion protesters at Marble Arch

“Many people say that it doesn’t matter, you can cheat sometimes. But I can’t do that. You can’t be a little bit sustainable. Either you’re sustainable, or not sustainable."

Thunberg has been praised for her comments about Asperger syndrome on Twitter.

“It is not often that I am inspired by a speaker, but @GretaThunberg was so quietly assured, authoritative, modest and right,” commented on Twitter user.

“She is a force for good. What a responsibility for such young shoulders. Greta is Aspergers and proud of it. May the force stay with her.”

Another wrote: “How beautiful to hear Greta Thunberg talking about #autism as a gift and pointing out that society is stronger when it embraces difference.

“This simple message is as important as her stance on the environment #r4today”

The activist, who has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize this year, also opened up about how climate change made her “very depressed” at the age of 11.

“It had a lot to do with the climate and ecological crisis. I thought everything was just so wrong and nothing was happening and there’s no point in anything,” she told Robinson.

However, the teenager said that she felt inspired to help bring awareness to the “existential crisis” when she realised she could make a difference in the world.

Thunberg’s quotes came ahead of her meeting in the UK with Westminster leaders including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Liberal Democrat Sir Vince Cable, and Green MP Caroline Lucas.


On Sunday, Greta Thunberg told Extinction Rebellion protesters in London that they were “making a difference”.

The 16 year-old Swedish schoolgirl was welcomed with cheers as took to the stage in Marble Arch on the seventh day of the demonstration.

“For way too long the politicians and people in power have got away with not doing anything at all to fight the climate crisis and ecological crisis,” she said.

“But we will make sure that they will not get away with it any longer.”

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