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  • Being Different Is a Superpower for the Likes of Greta Thunberg, Susan Boyle, and More

    Greta shows her autism drives her passion for saving the world.
    by Kate Borbon .
Being Different Is a Superpower for the Likes of Greta Thunberg, Susan Boyle, and More
PHOTO BY courtesy of Instagram/@gretathunberg, @susanboylemusic
  • According to Mona Magno Veluz, president of Autism Society Philippines, Asperger’s syndrome is technically no longer a diagnosis on its own, but it nows falls under the broad category of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Asperger’s syndrome now “is what doctors call a 'high-functioning' type of ASD,” and the symptoms are less severe than other kinds of autism spectrum disorders, according to WebMD.

    Veluz adds kids with Asperger’s do not have an intellectual disability. That certainly is true for Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate change activist who has been inspiring climate strikes all over the world. She has now also become another role model to those in the spectrum and an educator about what autism can look like.

    For Greta, her autism diagnosis is not something to be ashamed of and has now famously calls it her ‘superpower.’ 

    “I have Asperger’s syndrome and that means I’m sometimes a bit different from the norm,” she writes in a Facebook post. “And — given the right circumstances — being different is a superpower.”

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    “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. And believe me, my diagnosis has limited me before.”

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    In another post, however, Greta also called Asperger’s a ‘gift’ that helped her become the fearless activist she is now. (Read more about Greta Thunberg here.)

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    Greta is not the only one with Asperger’s who shows the condition is indeed a superpower.

    Susan Boyle

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    Remember the woman who stunned the world with her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” on Britain’s Got Talent in 2009? Susan Boyle, who has since sold millions of albums and toured the world, was diagnosed with Asperger’s in 2012, reports The Guardian. She says the condition has helped her understand herself more clearly and be more comfortable in her own skin.

    She shares in another interview with The Guardian, “Asperger’s doesn’t define me. It’s a condition that I have to live with and work through, but I feel more relaxed about myself. People will have a greater understanding of who I am and why I do the things I do.”

    Dan Aykroyd

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    The actor and writer, who wrote and starred in the classic film franchise Ghostbusters, was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome and Asperger’s syndrome. He says his Asperger’s helped him create the beloved Ghostbusters films.

    “I also have Asperger’s, but I can manage it. It wasn’t diagnosed until the early 80s when my wife persuaded me to see a doctor,” he says in an interview with The Daily Mail. “One of my symptoms included my obsession with ghosts and law enforcement — I carry around a police badge with me, for example. I became obsessed by Hans Holzer, the greatest ghost hunter ever. That’s when the idea of my film Ghostbusters was born.”

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    Albert Einstein

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    Albert Einstein is widely regarded as one of the most iconic and influential scientists who ever lived with theory of relativity and the equation E=MC2. And some researchers believe he had autism due to some distinct traits he exhibited.

    According to Psychology Today, Einstein had difficulties with social cues and showed disregard for social conventions as a child. He was also intensely focused on specific interests, including obscure scientific concepts. Other scientists are not convinced, however, and it was never proven he was on the spectrum.

    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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    Another well-known historical figure, Mozart is said to have indicated signs of both Asperger’s and Tourette’s when he was alive, including repetitive movements, unusual facial expressions, erratic moods, and obsessive thoughts and behaviors. But those didn’t stop him from creating hundreds of musical compositions from childhood until his death.

    A student with Asperger's syndrome gave a powerful speech during his graduation. Learn more about it here.

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