Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg’s mother, Malena Ernman, opened up about her daughter’s autism and struggles with an eating disorder in a new book written by the family.
In excerpts from the upcoming book titled “Our House is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis,” Ernman talked about how Thunberg was nearly mute as a young child and at times refused to eat anything other than rice, avocados and gnocchi, The Guardian reported Saturday.
“She was slowly disappearing into some kind of darkness,” Ernman said in the book. “She stopped playing the piano. She stopped laughing. She stopped talking. And she stopped eating.”
After losing about 22 pounds in a span of two months, Thunberg was almost admitted to a hospital. When she returned to school, she was bullied by classmates, and school officials were not sympathetic, according to the book.
“Their understanding of the situation is different. It’s Greta’s own fault, the school thinks,” Ernman wrote.
Thunberg, who was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2019, was eventually diagnosed with “high-functioning” autism, as well as obsessive compulsive disorder, her mother wrote.
Ernman said Thunberg, who is now 17, became interested in climate issues at school when her teacher showed a film about plastic waste in oceans. After class, other students discussed a teacher’s trip to New York and other travel plans, while Thunberg struggled to move on from learning about the pollution.
“Greta can’t reconcile any of this with any of what she has just seen,” her mother wrote. “She saw what the rest of us did not want to see. It was as if she could see our CO2 emissions with her naked eye.”
Thunberg held her first school strike, which later evolved into a global movement, in the summer of 2018. As she was joined by other demonstrators, her mother remembered a day when she was offered food by a Greenpeace activist.
“She takes a little bite,” Ernman wrote, “And another. No one reacts to what’s happening. Why would they? … Greta keeps eating. Not just a few bites but almost the whole serving.”
Thunberg is expected to travel to the United Kingdom this week to participate in a youth climate protest in Bristol.