The Enduring Power of Asperger’s, Even as a Non-Diagnosis Six years after it ceased to be an official diagnosis, Asperger’s lives on as a unifying label and a source of strength.


The teen climate activist Greta Thunberg describes Asperger’s as a superpower, in the right circumstances.PHOTOGRAPH: SPENCER PLATT/GETTY IMAGES

Michele Cohen Marill l Wired l 11/7/1


Sixteen-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg is the symbol of a climate change generation gap, a girl rebuking adults for their inaction in preventing a future apocalypse. Thunberg’s riveting speech at the UN’s Climate Action Summit has been viewed more than 2 million times on YouTube, and she was considered a viable contender for the Nobel Peace Prize.

In a tweet, Thunberg explained what made her so fearless: “I have Aspergers and that means I’m sometimes a bit different from the norm. And—given the right circumstances—being different is a superpower. #aspiepower.”

People with Asperger’s applaud the way she reframed a “disorder,” as it used to be called in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, into an asset. But Thunberg’s comments also fuel a lingering debate about whether Asperger’s even exists as a distinct condition—and if it doesn’t, why people are still so attached to the designation.

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