One girl with autism started a global youth movement to deal with climate change

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jerrym
One girl with autism started a global youth movement to deal with climate change

Greta Thunberg, who has Aspergers, started her protests about the failure of adults to deal with climate change by protesting alone outside the Swedish Parliament last August. Her solitary protest has cascaded into a worldwide student protest movement that has already staged several protests and will be holding more protests on March 15th and May 3rd. On March 15th there will be 1301 protests in 99 countries, in response to one autistic girl's actions.

I felt it was important for a change to celebrate someone who is not neurotypical or physically typical rather than always dealing with the problems that they face. 

Greta Thunberg strikes outside the Swedish parliament

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 Greta Thunberg strikes outside the Swedish parliament last summer. Photograph: Michael Campanella/The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/15/the-beginning-of-gre...

 

The following article describes the connection between her autism and her climate change protest that became a global movement. The article also includes a video of her 11 minute TED speech. 

As youth climate campaigners in the U.S. city of Brooklyn on Wednesday plan to continue a climate strike at least partly inspired by the ongoing vigil begun by 15-year-old Greta Thunberg in Sweden earlier this year, a new TEDx Talk released this week reveals that what inspired the Swedish teenager to take action was as simple as it was profound: she fell into sadness as she saw the leaders of the world—even those who admitted human-caused global warming was an "existential crisis"—continue to act and make policy decisions as though no emergency existed.

Everyone keeps saying, Thunberg declares in the 11-minute talk, that climate "is the most important issue of all, and yet they just carry on as before. I don't understand that. Because if the emissions have to stop, then we must stop the emissions. To me that is black or white. There are no gray areas when it comes to survival. Either we go on as a civilization or we don't. We have to change."

As a key part of the talk, Thunberg describes how at the age of eleven, several years after learning about the concept of climate change for the first time, she fell into a depression and became ill. "I stopped talking. I stopped eating," she explains. "In two months, I lost about ten kilos of weight. Later on I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, OCD, and selective mutism—that basically means I only speak when I think it's necessary." After a short pause, she adds, "Now is one of those moments."

"For those of us on the spectrum," Thunberg explains to the audience, "almost everything is black or white. We aren't very good at lying and we usually don't enjoy participating in the social game as the rest of you seem so fond of. I think in many ways we autistic are the normal ones and the rest of the people are pretty strange—especially when it comes to the sustainability crisis."

Towards the conclusion of her talk, Thunberg says that "this is when people usually start talking about hope—solar panels, wind power, circular economy, and so on—but I'm not going to do that." And continues, "We've had thirty years of pep-talking and selling positive ideas. And I'm sorry, but it doesn't work. Because if it would have, the emissions would have gone down by now—they haven't."  Finally, she says: "Yes, we do need hope—of course, we do. But the one thing we need more than hope is action. Once we start to act, hope is everywhere."

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/12/19/depressed-and-then-diagnose...

 

 

 

Issues Pages: 
jerrym

Greta Thunberg's nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize hopefully will begin to help change people's attitudes towards those who are autistic. 

Over one million participants from 100 countries in over 2000 cities took part in the largest Fridays-for-Future demonstrations to date on 15th March. Climate change activist Greta Thunberg fascinates not only children and young adults, but people of all ages. Hardly any other individual has provided such a strong worldwide movement in such a short time.

With Greta Thunberg, the topic of plant-based nutrition also receives a boost, because she lives vegan. Greta communicates her vegan lifestyle via her social media channels. The young activist already has well over 1.5 million followers and subscribers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, who share her contributions thousands of times over.

Greta has now been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Norwegian lawmakers, with the statement: “We have nominated Greta because the climate threat may be one of the most important causes of war and conflict […] “The massive movement Greta has set in motion is a very important peace contribution,” said parliamentary representative Freddy Andre Oevstegaard.

https://vegconomist.com/society/teenaged-activist-greta-thunberg-raises-...

 

Aristotleded24

I think this thread is highly disrespectful and is in the wrong forum. The main thrust of Thunberg's activism is taking action to deal with climate change, so it belongs in the Environmental Justice forum. So what if she has autism? What does her autism have to do with any of this?

Sean in Ottawa

Aristotleded24 wrote:

I think this thread is highly disrespectful and is in the wrong forum. The main thrust of Thunberg's activism is taking action to deal with climate change, so it belongs in the Environmental Justice forum. So what if she has autism? What does her autism have to do with any of this?

Agreed

kropotkin1951

Aristotleded24 wrote:

I think this thread is highly disrespectful and is in the wrong forum. The main thrust of Thunberg's activism is taking action to deal with climate change, so it belongs in the Environmental Justice forum. So what if she has autism? What does her autism have to do with any of this?

Highlighting her Asperger's diagnosis is abelist and sends the message that people with an Asperger's diagnosis doing something impressive is so rare as to be newsworthy.

Her activism and the global response is awesome but her privileged background in one of the richest societies on the planet is what has allowed her a platform to inspire other youth.  When I was eighteen I believed in the YIPPIE saying; Never Trust Anyone Over Thirty. I think today's youth need to adopt the same attitude. Of course age in some respects is a state of mind.

Aristotleded24

So since I first raised the issue of disrespect, a few people have agreed with this contention, and nobody has disagreed. Is it possible to change the thread title and move this into the environment forum?

Aristotleded24

*Ahem*

Aristotleded24 wrote:
I think this thread is highly disrespectful and is in the wrong forum. The main thrust of Thunberg's activism is taking action to deal with climate change, so it belongs in the Environmental Justice forum. So what if she has autism? What does her autism have to do with any of this?

This thread has been flagged as problematic, and nobody has contested that assertion. Can we please act on the recommendations and fix it?

robbie_dee

Aristotle, the OP includes an excerpt of Thunberg’s Ted talk where she draws the connection between her autism and her activism.

Quote:
 

As a key part of the talk, Thunberg describes how at the age of eleven, several years after learning about the concept of climate change for the first time, she fell into a depression and became ill. "I stopped talking. I stopped eating," she explains. "In two months, I lost about ten kilos of weight. Later on I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, OCD, and selective mutism—that basically means I only speak when I think it's necessary." After a short pause, she adds, "Now is one of those moments."

"For those of us on the spectrum," Thunberg explains to the audience, "almost everything is black or white. We aren't very good at lying and we usually don't enjoy participating in the social game as the rest of you seem so fond of. I think in many ways we autistic are the normal ones and the rest of the people are pretty strange—especially when it comes to the sustainability crisis.

Obviously her work can stand on its own merits, but I thought this observation was an interesting one and illustrates how important a neurodiverse perspective can be when allistic society needs a G.D. Wake up call.

robbie_dee

Guardian: Greta Thunberg hits back at Andrew Bolt for 'deeply disturbing' column

Quote:

The teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg has hit back at the Australian News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt for writing a deeply offensive column that mocked her autism diagnosis.

The Swedish schoolgirl posted a tweet overnight calling out the “hate and conspiracy campaigns” run by climate deniers like Bolt, adopting his insult that she was “deeply disturbed” and turning it back on him.

The widely read Herald Sun columnist and Sky News commentator used his significant platform to take aim at the 16-year-old campaigner, dismissing her followers as members of a cult and disparaging her decision to sail across the Atlantic in a high-speed racing yacht to attend UN climate summits in the US and Chile.

“Thunberg has announced she’s finally going to the United States, the last bastion of the heathen, to preach the global warming faith to the Americans,” Bolt wrote. “Of course, she’s going by racing yacht, because she refuses to fly and heat the planet with an aeroplane’s global warming gasses.”

The highly personal character assassination published in Rupert Murdoch’s tabloids repeatedly referred to Greta’s mental health, saying she was “deeply disturbed”, “freakishly influential” and “strange”.

“I have never seen a girl so young and with so many mental disorders treated by so many adults as a guru,” Bolt wrote.

Aristotleded24
Aristotleded24

2019 Person of the Year:

Quote:
reta Thunberg, the Swedish schoolgirl who inspired a global movement to fight climate change, has been named Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2019.

The 16-year-old is the youngest person to be chosen by the magazine in a tradition that started in 1927.

Speaking at a UN climate change summit in Madrid before the announcement, she urged world leaders to stop using "creative PR" to avoid real action.

The next decade would define the planet's future, she said.

Congratulations Greta. Well deserved.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..yes well deserved. she's under incredible pressure. watched a meeting at cop25 earlier today where she shared the stage with other young activists. the audience kept asking her questions and at one point she asked them to stop doing that. that there were other people up front. the audience took no heed of her request and kept questioning her. she answered their questions but you could see her deflate.

jerrym

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Aristotleded24 wrote:

I think this thread is highly disrespectful and is in the wrong forum. The main thrust of Thunberg's activism is taking action to deal with climate change, so it belongs in the Environmental Justice forum. So what if she has autism? What does her autism have to do with any of this?

Highlighting her Asperger's diagnosis is abelist and sends the message that people with an Asperger's diagnosis doing something impressive is so rare as to be newsworthy.

Quote:

robbie dee wrote:

Aristotle, the OP includes an excerpt of Thunberg’s Ted talk where she draws the connection between her autism and her activism.

 

As a key part of the talk, Thunberg describes how at the age of eleven, several years after learning about the concept of climate change for the first time, she fell into a depression and became ill. "I stopped talking. I stopped eating," she explains. "In two months, I lost about ten kilos of weight. Later on I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, OCD, and selective mutism—that basically means I only speak when I think it's necessary." After a short pause, she adds, "Now is one of those moments."

"For those of us on the spectrum," Thunberg explains to the audience, "almost everything is black or white. We aren't very good at lying and we usually don't enjoy participating in the social game as the rest of you seem so fond of. I think in many ways we autistic are the normal ones and the rest of the people are pretty strange—especially when it comes to the sustainability crisis.

Obviously her work can stand on its own merits, but I thought this observation was an interesting one and illustrates how important a neurodiverse perspective can be when allistic society needs a G.D. Wake up call.

Thanks Kropotkin and Robbie Dee. I hadn't seen these comments until today. As a father of son with an official diagnosis of autism and with a wife who thinks I display some of the characteristics of autism (by the way we've been married 30 years to break down another stereotype), I was trying to get across to readers a positive image of those with autism. To get my son the help that he needed as a child we had to fight for years through five different specialists. I won't bore you with the details. While my son is university and doing well now, I understand autistic stereotypes mean he will have challenges finding employment after graduation. 

The 2012 "employment rate for autistic adults was 14.3 per cent, compared to 92.7 per cent for the general population" (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/86-of-adults-with-autism-are-unem...). This means their unemployment rate is 85.7%.  The biases encountered by autistic people from those who know little or nothing about autism need to be countered and this can only be done by talking about it and by using positive role models to help break down stereotypes. 

Greta has been a role model for many with autism as the articles below testify. 

Alexander Burke was in high school when he received an explanation for his lifetime of difficulty making social connections. Diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, Burke, now 34, felt he had a better understanding of the interpersonal struggles that he had had in his past — but it did nothing to alleviate his worries about his future.

Burke says he would have been "thrilled" to have someone else with Asperger's whom he could look up to. But there weren't many other people with Asperger's that he knew of, either personally or in the public sphere.

That has since changed. In the past year, as teen environmental activist Greta Thunberg has launched an international movement to address climate change, the 16-year-old from Sweden has notched another accomplishment, say those on the autism spectrum. By being open about her own diagnosis of Asperger's — even calling it her "superpower" — Thunberg has emerged as a role model to those on the spectrum, and has educated others about what autism can look like.

"I think it is really inspirational," Burke, of Somerville, Massachusetts, said. "I would have been thrilled if I was in high school right now." ...

That has not stopped her. Last month, she tweeted: "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 Asperger's and that means I’m sometimes a bit different from the norm. And — given the right circumstances — being different is a superpower. #aspiepower".

That message is meaningful for Collier Litel, 23, of Lake Charles, Louisiana, who found out in seventh grade that he had Asperger's.

"It means a lot that she's willingly embraced Asperger's syndrome and talks about it openly."

"It means a lot that she's willingly embraced Asperger's syndrome and talks about it openly," said Litel, who graduated college in May and is now studying to take the LSATs. "It creates a lot of awareness and destroys some stigma."

"She's doing a lot to not only show people with Asperger's that they can be very powerful and effective in their own lives, but to show other people that the autism spectrum isn't something that's completely debilitating," he added.

Like Burke, Litel said he wished he had someone like Thunberg as a role model when he was growing up.

"I think it would have had a tremendous impact on what I viewed as possible not only for myself, but for cultivating relationships around me."

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/people-asperger-s-role-model-emerge...

Amanda McCarthy of Acton, Massachusetts, thinks back to when she was that age and can barely contain her amazement. That’s a common reaction to watching such a precocious teenager on the world stage, but McCarthy shares a trait with Thunberg that paints a fuller picture.

They both have Asperger’s, a neurological disorder characterized by difficulty with social and communication skills. It’s considered within the range of the autism spectrum, although those with Asperger’s typically have normal language development and normal-to-high IQs, so they’re regarded as “high functioning.’’

McCarthy, now a college graduate at 24, said she was ashamed of who she was at 16 and worried about what people would think of her.

In Thunberg, who has helped organize global climate strikes – the next ones are Friday, when she plans to protest in Montreal – McCarthy and others see a role model. ...

Trump seemed to be mocking Thunberg’s stern, impassioned lecture at the summit when he tweeted later that day, “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!’’

In response, Thunberg briefly co-opted some of those words and made them part of her Twitter profile.

She also tweeted Wednesday that opponents of her message were deriding her appearance and behavior, with Fox News guest commentator Michael Knowles referring to her as a “mentally ill Swedish child.’’ The network later issued an apology.

“Being different in not an illness and the current, best available science is not opinions – it’s facts,’’ Thunberg said in a series of tweets that included the hashtag #aspiepower. She has referred to Asperger’s as her “superpower.’’ ...

Thunberg’s celebrity has not only inspired others with Asperger's but also prompted some who may be on the spectrum to seek help.

Dania Jekel, executive director of the Asperger/Autism Network, said the nonprofit organization usually gets more calls when a well-known figure – such as musician David Byrne and actors Dan Aykroyd and Daryl Hannah – open up about their own neurological differences.

“For many of the folks, they will see somebody like Greta and they’ll say, ‘Maybe this could be me also,’’’ Jekel said. “So we get an uptick in the number of people, very often older people – 30, 40, 50 – who will call us and say, ‘Where do I get a diagnosis?’

“That’s why it’s so wonderful she came out and talked honestly about it, because it destigmatizes it and shows people on the spectrum can do creative, wonderful things.’ ...

In her nearly 30 years working on this field, Jekel said she has noticed people on the autism spectrum often show an interest in social causes, much like Thunberg has done with her involvement in environmental activism. “When you grow up feeling like you’re kind of on the outside or you’re different from other people,’’ she said. “I think it makes you empathetic for animals or people who have differences in our society.’’

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/09/27/teen-climate-activ...