ITI Neurodiversity Network – Embracing Neurodiversity in Translation Webinar by Carola Lange

25th March 2024

Matilda Lailey

Carola Lange is autistic and ADHD → “AuDHD”. This is the lens through which she is discussing the subject, and one neurodivergent person cannot speak to the needs and preferences of all.

History of the ITI Neurodiversity Network:

The network meets monthly to discuss various topics relating to neurodivergence and the translation industry.


What is neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity includes EVERYONE. It means the unique way everyone’s brain works.

Within neurodiversity, we can distinguish between neurotypical and neurodivergent people. Neurodivergent people include autistic, ADHD, dyslexic, dyscalculic and dyspraxic people.

Language is personal and always changing, for example, we no longer use the term “Aspergers” because its namesake, Hans Asperger, was affiliated with Nazis.

Additionally, some people don’t like the term “neurodivergent” because they feel it implies an inherent wrongness: they’re “diverging” from what exactly? How do we decide what the norm is?

Autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and other neurodivergent conditions have their own specific traits, and there is often overlap between them all. Most neurodivergent people, regardless of their condition, struggle with executive function difficulties, and sensory processing.

Autistic people may choose to become freelance translators as it means they are in control of their environment, which can ease sensory issues.

Many neurodivergent people struggle with anxiety. Carola gives the following equation:

It’s common for people to be diagnosed with autism or ADHD after going to the doctor about anxiety or depression, and neurodivergence is often misdiagnosed as mental illness. For example, ADHD can often be misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder.

“More” neurodivergent vs “less” neurodivergent

We should not think of neurodivergence as a linear scale where some people are “more” or “less” neurodivergent.

Rather we should think of neurodivergence as being various different strengths and weaknesses, and every neurodivergent person’s individual profile will be unique.

Diagram courtesy of Professor Amanda Kirby












Why do neurodivergent people make good translators?

Carola emphasised throughout the webinar that it is dangerous to refer to neurodivergence as a “superpower” as this is a slippery slope that implies neurodivergent people are better than neurotypicals, which is itself a form of ableism. She also reiterated that neurodivergence comes with a lot of struggles and challenges, which should not be ignored.

There are negative stereotypes surrounding neurodivergent people, but often the very things they struggle with are things they can rework to be positives. For example, people with ADHD struggle to stay organised. They overcompensate and work harder to be organised than a neurotypical person, and the end result is that many people with ADHD are actually ridiculously organised!

Another common stereotype is that autistic people are bad at communication, but research and lived experience shows us that actually, autistic people are very good at communicating with other neurodivergent people, but the breakdown occurs when autistic people and neurotypical people communicate.

The ITI Neurodiversity Network’s work

To disclose or not to disclose?

Many neurodivergent people do not feel able to be ‘out’ as neurodivergent in their professional and/or personal lives. One of Carola’s friends said that telling her workplace she is neurodivergent would be “career suicide”.

There is no right answer to the question, and it’s one that is often debated by the Network. Carola is very honest about her autism and ADHD and argues that she is a good translator because she is autistic, not in spite of it.

How can neurotypical people help?

Do not jump to conclusions when someone discloses to you that they are neurodivergent. This does not change who they are, they’re still the same person you knew 5 minutes ago, it’s just that now you happen to know they’re neurodivergent.

Ask yourself why did they disclose this?

Hold back on giving advice: if someone is able to disclose their neurodivergence, chances are they already know themselves and their needs well. That’s not to say you can’t eventually give advice and tips as you would to a neurotypical peer, but don’t make unsolicited advice one of the first things you say to someone straight after they’ve disclosed.

“Aren’t we all a bit…?”



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