having apergers roomates

Yesterday, I read an article called My Asperger’s makes living with other students a struggle, which is an article about college students with aspergers who have various problems living with roommates. This article made me grateful that I’m attending a university with an online program, because I don’t have to live in a dorm room. This article also reminded me of the year I ventured out to live on my own and decided to share a house with three roommates.

I didn’t have roommates because I wanted to live with other people or because I was forced to by a college. I had roommates in 2004 because it was the first year I was living out of state from my mom, and I couldn’t find an apartment that I could afford on my own. The job I took in California paid less than I thought it would, the affordable apartment I had planned to move into didn’t work out, and I was running out of money. Sometimes you have to decide between living with roommates or moving back to your parents’ houses. I was determined to try to make it out in California and chose living with roommates over having to move back home with my mom. I had no idea what living with roommates would be like.

A friend told me he knew of a room for rent in a house with some of his friends. I moved in and I lived with three people, none of whom I knew before I moved in with them. One was a single man, and the other were a couple (one man and one woman). Between the three of them, they had a dog and two cats. I had my own room, but closing the door did not keep out their noise or smoke smells. My bedroom door didn’t lock or always close all the way, so sometimes a cat or dog would push its way inside. I quickly found out that nobody in this house liked to do dishes; they piled their dishes in the sink until they ran out of dishes, and this disgusted me to the point where I would barely go into the kitchen. They liked to drink and invite people over until late at night, and I couldn’t sleep through their noise.

They were nice people, but they annoyed me. I also annoyed them. They didn’t understand why I didn’t want to sit around in the kitchen playing card games with them, or why I wore headphones most of the time, or why I didn’t want to chip in to order fast food. They thought I was anti-social and rude. It wasn’t a compatible living situation, and after a year I decided that I would rather move back with my mom than to live with these people anymore. I was lucky at that time to have the choice of being able to go back to live with my mom.

I learned some things from having roommates. Having aspergers made it difficult for me to compromise my routines or expectations, and roommates are not like family members in the sense that they don’t really care. I wasn’t used to having to wait for hours to be able to use the bathroom, or to not have any control over when I could sleep (because of their noise). Basically, I learned that I should not have roommates. However, if I were ever in the same situation I would work harder to ask questions about the people I would be living with before moving in. I would want to find maybe only one other roommate, someone who keeps to themselves and does not drink or smoke, etc.

Have you ever had roommates? Did you enjoy the experience, or was it difficult for you?