Is my roommate justified in asking me to make zero noise because of her ADHD?

The title makes me seem in the wrong but I will explain better. I live in an apartment with two other girls and the one with ADHD insisted on having her own room because of it, causing me to have to share a tiny bedroom with another girl. I was fine with it though because I knew it would help her. First off, I started to get frustrated when I realized my roommate leaves the apartment literally all day to do work, pretty much making the single room unnecessary for her and meaning me and my other roommate are up in each other’s business all day. Then, while she takes quizzes or exams, she asks us to be dead silent in the apartment. I completely understand that she has ADHD and every little noise can be distracting. However, she makes no effort on her part to block the noise. I have tried to talk to her about getting noise cancelling headphones or earplugs so we don’t distract her but she said she just doesn’t want to. Both me and my other roommate are frustrated because we are unable to do pretty much anything in the living room or kitchen without her coming in and telling us to be quiet in these instances. This happened once while I was making coffee because I was exhausted and groggy in the morning and I was about to take a quiz myself. I also wanted to make myself food, but instead went until 2pm without food because she was still taking the test and she had told me to be quiet. I personally don’t think it’s fair that I have to disrupt my whole routine and day and go without meals because of this. If there was nothing she could do to fix this, I would understand more, but she refuses to buy earplugs or anything and expects us to completely silent for many hours without a single noise for the entire duration of her extended time exams. If we do make any noise, she texts us or comes out to tell us to be quiet. Am I in the wrong for being frustrated about this situation? What should I do?

No, you aren’t wrong for being frustrated. It sounds like it is past time to sit down, all three of you, and agree upon some house rules.

Fore sure it makes sense if there are two bedrooms and three people, the two rooming together should have the larger room, unless the single is paying a greater share of the rent.

Perhaps you and your roommate can split the cost of a set of noise cancelling headphones for your suitemate for Christmas?

I would say:
‘I understand you have to study, and I also live here and need to use the kitchen and make something to eat.’

Be friendly and neutral when you say this, keep cooking your dinner, and repeat this sentence as much as you need to.

You can also sit down in person, with her and your other roommate, and discuss agreed quiet hours (this might be 11pm - 6am or 2-5pm every weekday). The rest of the time you can make ‘noise’ and she needs to use earplugs or go out to the library.

If you are college run accommodation, perhaps the RA will facilitate this conversation

Good luck

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Parent of a student with Autism who has issues with sound sensitivity. My S had a single dorm room (not shared apartment or suite situation) because that was important to him and it seems that maybe the roommate should consider a single living situation in the future. Because of his disability, he was able to pay the double occupancy rate in a double room but was not assigned a roommate because he wanted to be a part of an LLC that did not have a single. My S is registered with the disability services office on his campus. Most campuses have a disability office. It sounds like you and the other roommate were very kind/understanding to allow her to have the single. Without giving the roommate’s name, could you run your situation by the someone in the disabilities office to see if they have suggestions for what accommodations the disabilities office provides for someone who is taking a quiz and needs complete silence and how you could approach it with the roommate? Maybe they would suggest that the roommate take her quiz on campus at the disabilities office or a quiet library room. I think it is kind and considerate when my son’s peers try to be accommodating of his special needs, but I also would hope that he would be considerate of others as well, especially with the disability office resources. Being on the spectrum, it is a fine line of advocating for himself and not using his disability to take advantage. I don’t like confrontation so that is why I suggested reaching out to the disability office to see if they have ideas of the best way for you to approach this without anyone getting upset.

You need another party to mediate the issues so that she doesn’t feel she is being “attacked” for her disability. This could be an RA, the housing rep. or someone from Disabled Student Services.

Part of living with ADHD is learning from others, and striving to work and live within the “social environment”. If things don’t change, I would suggest that you contact the housing office and find another living situation.

The ADHD roommate is inconsiderate of her other roommates, in my opinion.

Unless you are in there Emeril style (BAM), you have ever right to use the kitchen and eat!

Her unwillingness to compromise and yet expecting special treatment in a combined living style isn’t reasonable. Do you have an RA? You need a mediator

She is being inconsiderate and self-centered. Everyone in my family has ADHD so I understand the issue. However, your roommate needs to do some things to help herself such as using noise canceling headphones. You and your other roommates should not have to make substantial adjustments to your way of living in order to accommodate your ADHD roommate.

There are lots of workarounds for situations like this. White noise machines (takes a little time to get both the volume and the background sounds calibrated), headphones come in lots of different types, not just the big clunky ones that aircraft mechanics wear (which is what most people think of) but also smaller ear bud types which won’t screen out ALL ambient noise, but will screen out voices, dishes clattering, etc.

Time for a meeting- with an RA or counselor, or just yourselves. This isn’t about your roommates ADHD per se- it’s about everyone having quiet when they need it, privacy, and time/space to be alone. If that means that someone has to take a quiet jog an hour before they wanted to, or someone else prepares lunch ahead of time- well, you guys can figure this out. Everyone has equal “claim” on the apartment and the common areas, but nobody gets to dictate terms without some give and take.

I roomed with a varsity athlete one year in college. I am a big night owl and would have been happy to stay up until 2, sleep until 10, and work my class schedule around that. She had practice at 6 am sharp (and needed breakfast first), AND was pre-med, so she needed her sleep and concentration time.

We worked it out. And some mornings, we even spent time together as I was coming back to the room, and she was getting ready to leave…

LOL, ADD doesn’t require a larger bedroom.

One of the lessons we learn at about your age is when to be kind and prioritize another’s needs versus when we bend over too far backwards, end up challenging ourselves in unnecessary (and sometimes damaging) ways. It seems you have reached your limit. This gal needs to find her own perfect peace and quiet, whether it’s a single or taking tests in another part of campus. Not continue demanding it from you.

Time for her to be considerate of you. If an RA can’t help, go to the housing office. They deal with this stuff.

Best luck with this.

As a person with ADHD, I understand how she could be distracted. However, I think your annoyance is completely justified. Her distraction isn’t your responsibility and it’s not fair of her to put all that on you when she makes no effort to help herself. I hope she doesn’t ruin your opinion of all adhd people, most of us learn to just adapt to the world and it’s many distractions. I wouldn’t confront her directly, ADHD people can be very sensitive to confrontation and criticism. But, on the other hand, you’re not responsible for her feelings. Honestly the best way to handle this is to just make noise, don’t scream in her face, but don’t follow her demands of silence. Eventually she will adapt. Best of luck.

We just had a conversation with her about finals week and she said each of her exams will last 6 hours. She said she’s not going to pay for noise cancelling headphones because they are expensive and when I tried to recommend ear plugs, she said they fall out of her ears (which I don’t really believe). We also recommended a white noise machine and she seemed uninterested. We basically told her we can’t be expected to not use the kitchen for that long and she said she doesn’t expect us to , but yet she implied that she still expects us to be dead silent somehow. She said something about how the oven is quiet and we can use that but just not the microwave or anything. Nothing I would cook at lunchtime would require the oven and I’m not buying food specifically for that, plus it would still make more noise than she thinks to prepare food in the oven. I told her that no matter how hard I try to be quiet while cooking, it is still going to make some noise and there’s nothing I can do about it (ex. Opening and closing the fridge and cabinets, putting stuff down on the counter, running water from the sink, etc). I can limit noise by doing things like closing things carefully but not get rid of noise completely, which is what she wants and is completely unrealistic. I have to be able to eat. We didn’t really reach a resolution at all but now she knows that we are frustrated.

She’s being unreasonable. Go about your normal routine.

Did she get the larger of the bedrooms or are they equal size? Obviously one person should need less space than 2. That said, that is a separate issue. She has a responsibility to make personal efforts to manage her life with ADHD. You do not need to be making all of the adjustments to work around her issue. Considerate behavior goes both ways. You have already made a big compensation— she needs to make some as well. There have been many helpful suggestions made here- she can pick a few. Good luck.

I wonder if your college has noise cancelling headphones that can be checked out from the library or disabilities office? I am amazed at the kind of stuff that can be rented/checked out at my son’s college. I do think contacting the disabilities office to ask what you as a roommate should do in this situation could be helpful.

Does she not have a door to shut? If she can’t function with the minor sounds of people more-or-less quietly going about normal business such as closing and opening the refrigerator, using a microwave, and talking softly in the background while she has her door shut, she has a disability beyond the ability to live with others and she needs her own apartment. No, her own house (since people in hallways and adjacent.apartments make noise)…no a house surrounded by forest, because neighbors mow lawns and rev their vehicles sometimes. My point is, if she is to live in this world, she really has to learn to adapt. The world will not, and cannot comform to her every need. So please stop contorting yourself trying to please her every whim. I know it’s hard, as have been prone to thinking that others’ problems are my responsibility for much of my life. It’s a hard mindset to break…you don’t want to be an unkind person… but really, she is taking advantage of her disability to act like an egocentric toddler. Maybe her parents tip-toed around her all of her life, but you don’t have to. Also, expect some strong frustration or even rage from her if you don’t comply, but that doesn’t mean you’re in the wrong.

If the rooms are of unequal size and you are doubling up to try to help her, she gets the smaller one.

I say this as a fairly sensitive person who has a hard time multi-tasking and dealing with noise distractions. So I get that (though her issues are probably a lot more severe than mine…I have never been diagnosed with ADHD). But no matter how sympathetic you or your roommates may be to her situation, YOUR main job is to thrive, stay healthy and learn in college, while being appropriately courteous to others’s right to do so. SHE has crossed a boundary into assuming your main job is to keep her happy. It is not. She doesn’t like head phones or noise-cancelling machines? Then she has to find a way to pay for the lifestyle she needs or she must learn to adapt and compromise, herself. How does she plan to make a living after college? I can guarantee that no new employee will be able to arrange her work situation to her liking the way she expects you-all to do in the apartment. I hope she is prepared to launch herself into a lucrative, free-lance career where she can work out of her own home…or to get used to the headphones.

Whose name is on the rental lease, btw?

We live in an off-campus apartment that does leases by bed. The two rooms are equal size, and she is paying extra to have her own (although I would have been willing to pay that too if she wasn’t so adamant that she get the single room). She does have a door to shut, but noise from the kitchen can still be heard. She always claims that she can hear every little thing in the living room and kitchen. The irony is that she will often talk on the phone in her room and practically yell but get surprised or laugh when we tell her we could hear every word of what she was saying. She asks for dead silence from us but never returns the favor when we are sleeping or doing work. At night, she constantly wakes up my roommate who goes to bed early by slamming cabinet doors and talking loud.
Unfortunately, with COVID, ARS at our school is not allowing her to take exams on campus and I checked to see if they rent out noise cancelling headphones but they don’t. I was going to suggest she soundproof her door (only costs like $20) but she seems so uninterested in compromising that I doubt she’ll actually do it.

You have made every reasonable suggestion for accommodation. At some point do what you can reasonably do and make her adjust. Can you move after this semester?

So, go about your life and refuse to worry about her complaints. I’m not saying to be mean or vindictive. Continue to be reasonably considerate about noise (I.e., take the high road) but don’t tiptoe unduly or let her demands rule your life. Just state as calmly as you can that you won’t live with the double standards by which she can do what she wants but you and the other roommate can’t . Don’t get dragged into an argument,…Just say, whenever she talks about her ADHD and noise in the apartment that it must be hard for her having ADHD and you wish her well on her tests, etc. Keep in mind that she is responsible for finding a way to cope with the demands of normal life. She can try the earphones, or not. She can move out, or not. You don’t have to defend your right to cook/eat and talk normally in what is supposed to be your own home. When she says she doesn’t like earphones, just state calmly that you don’t like not being able to cook for hours on end or not having a quiet conversation in your home. If she tells you you must stay absolutely silent for six hours, then say you can’t promise to do that and she will have to find a solution for her problem. Try to stay calm and polite when you say these things but refuse to be guilted/ manipulated.

It’s ridiculous…you aren’t talking about partying, blaring loud music, or having friends over at odd hours. The dynamic is unhealthy. Try to move as soon as you can do so, because I doubt she will change.

It just occurred to me that you and your roommate should get the noise cancelling headphones so you don’t hear the 3rd roommate complaining/making demands :wink: