Thriving School Psych Thriving Students

Reclaiming Disability as Superpower

Is anyone else absolutely blown away by the awesomeness of 16-year old climate activist Greta Thunberg?

This young woman is taking the world by storm with her fiery passion for the protecting the environment. Not only that, she has become a role model for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Greta openly talks about her diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome and embraces the “gifts” that being on the Autism Spectrum have given her–the ability to focus deeply in her passion area, and bluntly speaking the “truth to power” to drive home her climate-change message.

Her story is so powerful because she isn’t succeeding in capturing the world’s attention in spite of her disability, but because of the “superpowers” associated with her disability.

As school psychologists, we know the importance of embracing neurodiversity and highlighting strengths. I’ve written before on how to help students with disabilities focus on their strengths, not just their weaknesses. And as it turns out, Fortune 500 companies agree that people on the Autism spectrum bring unique value to the workforce. Greta’s story is a wonderful example of someone who is reclaiming her disability as a superpower.

If you haven’t yet seen her in action,  watch this passionate plea for our world leaders to act on behalf of saving our environment. And if you’re like me and watching inspiring young people makes you choke up a little, get your tissues ready.

The best part of this story is that when she later got backlash about her Asperger’s Disorder being an “illness,” she tweeted out:

“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

Now THAT’S Truth to Power.


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