Housemate with Suspected Autism — Scope | Disability forum
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Housemate with Suspected Autism

Haniamosh
Haniamosh Community member Posts: 2 Listener
edited October 2021 in Autism and neurodiversity

Hi everyone,

I've come here seeking advice from anyone who can help. I'm currently in my third year at university studying Psychology and I'm also taking autism courses with the NAS to become a volunteer for young people with autism. I live with 4 other people and this year we have introduced a new housemate (Housemate X) meaning there are 5 of us in total (4 of us know each other already and Housemate X was a stranger before moving in). Since living with Housemate X, I have come to suspect very strongly that she has autism however I believe this is undiagnosed. The issues arising from her undiagnosed autism are affecting me and my other housemates and are causing a rift between us and Housemate X. While we all suspect she is autistic, we do not know how to tackle the issues at hand in the correct way because as I've mentioned above, she does not seem to be aware of any diagnosis. 

Our reasons for suspecting autism are:

  • In conversations, she doesn't engage in small talk (e.g. if I ask how her day has been, she won't return the question)
  • She seems to have set conversation topics (e.g. only talking about public transport problems)
  • She is unable to engage in conversation about other people (e.g. all conversations resort back to her and often irrelevant links)
  • She appears hyposensitive (e.g. going over a week without cleaning herself, wearing the same clothing item several times despite it smelling, not noticing foul smells from her kitchen cupboard, eating loudly with her mouth open, making random sounds, listening to videos extremely loudly, speaking loudly, not engaging in conversations unless name is said, frequently dropping things and difficulty knowing where her body is)
  • Doesn't give eye contact at appropriate times
  • Strong, nearly obsessive like for Strictly Come Dancing and some of the professional dancers on the show, I would describe Housemate X as a super fan.
  • Her facial expressions don't seem to match her mood (e.g. we went out as a group and she later told us it was fun but her face did not show this at the time, she seemed angry and potentially upset)

Obviously, some of these signs are making it more difficult for us to engage with her and are leading to some bigger issues:

  • Her uncleanliness is leading to foul smells that she does not appear to notice
  • She doesn't engage in conversation so it's hard to create a relationship because conversations are always one-sided
  • She makes completely irrelevant remarks which often end conversations
  • She doesn't appear interested in getting to know us which makes forming a relationship hard
  • She has problems with listening to us/our instructions (e.g. we have a cleaning rota and if not reminded she will not perform her chore, this week I did remind her and she still didn't carry out the chore; we had a maggot problem in our food bin after she had lived alone for a few weeks and we told her specifically how to clean it to eliminate the maggots but she ignored these instructions and the maggots returned instantly) 
  • She eats with her mouth open and very loudly which is uncomfortable for the rest of us when we're in the same room

I'm really looking for advice on how to tackle the problems developing, considering the fact we believe it is undiagnosed which adds many further complications. Thanks for any help in advance, all advice is welcome. We don't want to push her out, we just want to help and find a way to include her where possible.

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Comments

  • Ross_Alumni
    Ross_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,652 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello @Haniamosh

    Welcome to the community, I hope you are well.

    Thanks for your question, this seems as though it's quite a difficult situation for you all at the minute and I'm sure that many people would be unsure of how to handle it just as you are.

    Irrespective of your belief that she may have a condition of some kind, can I ask how much you have discussed these living issues with her? I appreciate that you say this person can be hard to communicate with, but have you or any of the other housemates tried to constructively talk about what is going on, and whether she has any concerns about the living arrangement, or anything else going on in her life, that may be causing some of her behaviour?
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  • Haniamosh
    Haniamosh Community member Posts: 2 Listener
    Hi @Ross_Scope,

    Thanks for your reply! We have discussed some of the issues with her, such as messiness in the kitchen. When we moved in, after Housemate X had been living alone for three weeks, we came back to our house being very messy with dirt and crumbs all over the floor and surfaces, maggots in the bins, very cluttered surfaces etc. We chose to address this with her straight away. During this conversation we explained our issues with it and asked her to clean up, with the offer to help out and trying to be as nice as possible. However, she didn't seem very responsive to this and was, at times, defensive. While she made an attempt to clean, this seemed very reluctant and she didn't follow instructions very well as mentioned above.

    We have not discussed many of the issues with her primarily because many of the topics are more personal and would be classed as rude to discuss with someone, making them hard to bring up. As we don't yet have a close relationship with her, it feels it would be almost like bullying to bring up issues like the loud eating and the uncleanliness/bad smell. 

    We haven't come to her directly about any possible worries about the living arrangement, but we are very open about any housing issues, mental health etc., and feel if she had any issues it is an easy environment for these to be shared. 

    Do you have any suggestions or advice on how we could address the more personal issues, considering that we are unsure if these are related to undiagnosed autism?
  • Danip
    Danip Community member Posts: 5 Listener
    Hi @Haniamosh, what a difficult situation for all of you. It would be helpful to connect with her family and other friends to check if she has always been this way or if this is something new. It seems that there is more going on than Autism. And if she is autistic, living with 4 other people can be quite overwhelming, it is really kind of you to worry about her. Until you find out more about Housemate X, in more practical terms, I would suggest writing down some tasks for each of you and let it visible, it may be helpful for everyone. Something detailed, so she knows exactly what she needs to do and when to help with the house management. You can also include when each one can use the washing machine and shower, and this could also be a hook to start a kind conversation about personal hygiene. I hope it helps. Take care !



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