roomates

Should I tell my roommates I’m autistic?

anonymous asked:
I’m an autistic student who’s starting college next fall. I’m wondering if I should tell my roommate(s?) about it first, or if this will affect the way they think of me. I like to think that I can “fit” in normally with everyone, but I might have some quirks that will annoy them. I’m worried I won’t be able to make friends, I’m not sure what to do.
 

realsocialskills said:

I don’t know a good answer to this from my own experiences, since I didn’t know I was autistic until after college. (I wish I had known sooner.)

There’s a really good book and website about dealing with college as an autistic person called Navigating College. It talks in practical terms about a lot of different issues, including the question of disclosure. I would highly recommend reading it.

That said, here’s what I think I know about disclosure in general:

  • Autism is highly stigmatized, and most people will see you as less of a person if they know you’re autistic.
  • Sometimes it’s safer not to tell people, or to say something like “I have a neurological disorder that makes it hard for me to (whatever the relevant thing is).
  • If Google knows that you are autistic, it can make it harder to get into school, get an internship, or get a job
  • Keeping autism completely secret creates a major barrier to friendship; hiding a fundamental aspect of who you are makes everything a lot harder
  • If people don’t know you’re autistic, then you always have to wonder how they’d treat you if they ever found out.
  • If people know you’re autistic, then you face a lot more mistreatment, but you also find out who you can trust. Sometimes, that’s worth it.
  • There isn’t a right answer here; all of the options kind of suck, and which approach is best for you is a highly personal decision

And a few things I think I know about disclosing to roommates:

  • In college, roommates are often not friends
  • They’re just people you have to minimally get along with enough to share space peacefully
  • In some ways it’s better if you’re *not* close to your roommate; a fairly superficial relationship can be more conductive to living together
  • If you aren’t close to your roommate, there’s probably no reason they *need* to know you’re autistic. 
  • It’s also possible that they’ll treat you better if you don’t tell them, since most people think that autism means you’re unable to understand or care about other people.
  • So, unless you’re generally open about being autistic (which can be a good strategy), it might be better to err on the side of not telling your roommate.

Do any of y'all have advice about whether to tell college roommates you’re autistic?

Hi. I’m triggered by outbursts of anger and by people being majorly depressed around me. My roommate has outbursts of anger and major depression. Help?
My first thought is that you’re probably not compatible roommates. Living with that person probably means you’re inevitably going to get triggered by them a lot, which isn’t good for either of you.
That said, it might depend on how being triggered works for you:
  • Some people can learn to detect when something is about to become triggering and avert it.
  • It might be possible for you to do things like figure out which kinds of contact with your roommate are triggering, detect when it’s about to happen, and extract yourself
  • For instance, if it’s about seeing facial expressions your roommate makes when they’re angry, it might work to leave the room when things are getting too close to the edge
  • But not everyone’s triggers work this way.
  • It may not be possible to find ways to avoid being triggered while still living with someone who does a lot of triggering things
  • If that’s how it is, it’s not a personal failing, it just means you probably can’t safely live together.
  • Not everyone is compatible, and that’s ok

It also might depend on how often it happens, and what the consequences are:

  • If it’s infrequent, it might be bearable. Depending on how that is for you personally
  • It also depends on what kind of trigger it is, and how you feel about it
  • Like, if it’s the kind of trigger where you have to spend an hour freaking out and convincing yourself that you’re safe, you might decide that that’s bearable
  • It’s totally ok to decide that being regularly triggered in that way is deal-breaking, though. Either is ok, it’s a matter of what you want
  • If it’s the kind of trigger where you spend a week fighting suicidal feelings, it’s probably really important to get out of that living situation as soon as possible

Aside from what to do in the roommate situation, some thoughts about being triggered by anger:

  • Anger is a particularly difficult trigger to deal with
  • Because anger is an inevitable part of just about every relationship ever
  • Sometimes people will be justifiably angry at you, and have a legitimate need to express it
  • And sometimes you have to deal with the thing they’re angry about even though you get triggered by the anger
  • Even though it’s not your fault, even though you can’t avoid getting triggered
  • The underlying thing they’re angry about still has to be dealt with
  • Getting triggered by things people can’t reasonably avoid doing is really awful

Further thoughts about anger:

  • Having to deal with anger sometimes doesn’t mean that you can’t ever avoid it
  • Sometimes people have a legitimate need to express anger about something you’ve done, but most ways you’re likely to encounter anger in your day-to-day life aren’t like that
  • Not all anger has anything to do with you, and when you’re not the person someone is angry at, it’s usually reasonable to avoid engaging with anger
  • For instance, it’s ok if you don’t want people to vent to you when they’re angry at someone else or angry about politics
  • And it’s ok to avoid watching angry movies or following angry blogs
  • Or to block angry bloggers who trigger you, even if they’re good people who you respect
  • Or to use tumblr savior or xkit to block tags etc that are mostly people being angry
  • Or to decide not to spend time with people who get angry with you over minor things
  • Or to decide not to spend time around people who are frequently angry or appear angry much of the time
  • In particular, you might be better off not sharing living space with someone who gets angry a lot

I’m not sure what else to suggest. Do any of y'all have thoughts?