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Overly sheltered and unsocialized

 
gardener
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Help please. As a favor to a great farm customer, I’ve welcomed her just turned 20 year old as a part time intern, 3 days a week and staying on the farm for the corresponding nights.  She’s been homeschooled without any outside community aka friends her age and is beyond uncomfortable with people.  She cowers at farmers markets, incapable of self expression and I can’t help but assume that her homeschooling without outside regular contact has added to her delicate nature.  Any advice?  We’ve spoken candidly about challenges with her entering young womanhood and how to ease her into engaging with the public.  I must admit, that her challenges make me question some aspects of isolation from this approach wrapped in the extreme.
 
Mother Tree
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Is she so introverted because she was home-schooled?  Or was she home-schooled because she's naturally so introverted?

Could she have aspergers syndrome?  If so, it's likely she'll need very different help.
 
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I think there is more going on than just an isolated home life.

Maybe you could introduce her to some young ladies that are about her age, or maybe younger?  If so, I would suggest that these young ladies have a kind and caring personality.

What does she like to do with her spare time?  Read, art, sew, cook ... helping her with these activities might help draw her out of her shell.
 
Marianne Cicala
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She is the oldest of 5; all of whom are homeschooled with little to no outside interaction, no church, no sports.......
She likes to read (I set up a mini library in her room) and play with her cats, which she has 20...that bizarre in itself.  
thanks for your input - peeling an onion on this one.  I was kinda surprised to see her car still here this morning.  
M
 
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The answer, I think, is definitely not more of the same.

If she likes reading, I would seriously suggest something like a book club.

My first thoughts had to do with finding a choir for her to join, if she has even the least bit of musical aptitude, but that is more useful as example than suggestion, I think.

Does she interact with people online? I think the logical path would be to take what she does already and extend that from the private sphere to the public one.

If it were dogs instead of cats, a dog-oriented meet-up would make sense, but cats aren't dogs. Does she interact well with other animals? That could be an in, so to speak.

-CK
 
Marianne Cicala
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She's all about "pets"; I parked my lab with her last night just to ease her anxiety about being away from home for the first time ever.  She will also be in charge of the birds, eventually.  I'll keep peeling and hopefully get her involved in something with folks more her age.  
M
 
Anne Miller
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Another quick suggestion that I just thought of  ...

We had an unhappy foreign exchange student several years ago.  She said she missed her younger siblings.  She found another home where she could babysit.

Maybe babysitting might help or doing children tours of your place while their parents shopped.
 
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I'm no expert, but this kind of sounds like Social Anxiety Disorder, which considering her isolated upbringing, should be expected.  Kudo's to you for taking her under your wing, continued exposure to kind and trustworthy people will help nurture her and help her grow.
 
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