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Greta Thunberg’s mother reveals how the climate activist ‘stopped talking and eating’ aged 11

Greta Thunberg’s mother reveals how the climate activist ‘stopped talking and eating’ aged 11 as she struggled with autism and an eating disorder before discovering her mission to save the world

  • World’s most recognised climate change activist Greta Thunberg fell ill aged 11
  • Her parents reveal their difficulty in coping with Greta’s increasing silence
  • Miss Thunberg almost one and a half stone after two months of not eating
  • Her mother has told of how Greta’s epiphany over climate shifted her mood 

Greta Thunberg was ‘disappearing into some kind of darkness’ before discovering her mission to save the world from climate change, her mother has revealed.

Malena Ernman has told of her daughter’s struggle with autism and an eating disorder in a new book written by the Thunberg family.

She describes how Greta, now the world’s most recognised climate change activist, became unwell aged 11.

Ernman, a celebrated Swedish opera singer, and her actor husband, Svante Thunberg, reveal their difficulty in coping with their daughter’s increasing silence and refusal to eat anything except tiny amounts of rice, avocado and gnocchi. The pair are pictured together above

Ernman, a celebrated Swedish opera singer, and her actor husband, Svante Thunberg, reveal their difficulty in coping with their daughter’s increasing silence and refusal to eat anything except tiny amounts of rice, avocado and gnocchi. The pair are pictured together above

Psychiatrists diagnosed her with autism, which Ernman describes as ‘high-functioning Asperger’s’, as well as obsessive compulsive disorder.

‘She was slowly disappearing into some kind of darkness,’ Ernman writes.

‘She stopped playing the piano. She stopped laughing. She stopped talking. And she stopped eating.’

Malena Ernman has told of her daughter’s struggle with autism and an eating disorder in a new book written by the Thunberg family. Singer Ms Ernman is pictured above

Malena Ernman has told of her daughter’s struggle with autism and an eating disorder in a new book written by the Thunberg family. Singer Ms Ernman is pictured above

Ernman, a celebrated Swedish opera singer, and her actor husband, Svante Thunberg, reveal their difficulty in coping with their daughter’s increasing silence and refusal to eat anything except tiny amounts of rice, avocado and gnocchi.

‘After two months of not eating, Greta has lost almost 10kg [1.5st], which is a lot when you are rather small to begin with,’ Ernman writes.

‘Her body temperature is low and her pulse and blood pressure clearly indicate signs of starvation.

‘She no longer has the energy to take the stairs and her scores on the depression tests she takes are sky high.’

Thunberg, now 17, addressed United Nations Climate Change summits in 2018 and 2019 as part of her campaign to raise awareness over global warming. 

Last year she became Time magazine’s youngest ever Person of the Year after regularly trading barbs with US President Donald Trump.

In extracts of the family’s book, which is called Our House Is On Fire: Scenes Of A Family And A Planet In Crisis, serialised in The Observer, Ernman tells of how Thunberg’s epiphany over the climate crisis shifted her mood.

After watching a film in class about rubbish in the oceans, the young girl became gripped with concern.

Describing how her daughter then planned a climate-change strike from school, Ernman writes: ‘Svante has promised to take her to a building supplier’s to buy a scrap piece of wood that she can paint white and make a sign out of it.

‘ “School Strike for the Climate” it will say. And although more than anything we want her to drop the whole idea of going on strike from school – we support her.

‘Because we see that she feels good as she draws up her plans – better than she has felt in many years.

‘Better than ever before, in fact.’

Greta Thunberg, now 17, addressed United Nations Climate Change summits in 2018 and 2019 as part of her campaign to raise awareness over global warming. Last year she became Time magazine’s youngest ever Person of the Year

Greta Thunberg, now 17, addressed United Nations Climate Change summits in 2018 and 2019 as part of her campaign to raise awareness over global warming. Last year she became Time magazine’s youngest ever Person of the Year

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