Tomorrow on PBS, Frontline will air a two-part show about Adam Lanza and Nancy Lanza. I have two long reads to share with you that discusses this joint investigation between Frontline and the Hartford Courant.
The Frontline’s two-part documentary Raising Adam Lanza and Newtown Divided premieres Tuesday, Feb, 19, at 10 p.m. on PBS.
Who Was Adam Lanza, And What Was The Nature Of His Relationship With His Mother?
Watch The FRONTLINE Special Tues., Feb. 19 at 10 p.m. (check your local listings)
Adam, 6, then diagnosed with a condition that made it difficult for him to manage and respond to sights, touch and smell, eventually struggled in the first grade at his new school — Sandy Hook Elementary.
His mother would respond, touching off a 10-year educational shuffle with moves in and out of schools and programs that addressed his sensory integration disorder and another diagnosis that would come by middle school: Asperger’s syndrome.
Adam would attend public school, take lessons at home, try private school for a couple of months, return to public school and attend Newtown High School, although he left after his sophomore year. He went to college at 16 and earned A’s and B’s — but it didn’t last. He was out in a year. He then went to a community college, and dropped out in the first semester.
A series of significant life changes followed for Adam as the number of people with whom he had contact began to shrink.
His parents divorced. He abruptly cut off contact with his father, Peter, in 2010, and grew estranged from his older brother. He spent more time alone at home. His mother, who loved to travel, told friends she was grooming him to be independent someday. There were even plans to leave New England — their lifelong home — so Adam could study history and possibly earn a college degree.
But mother and son never left. Adam, now 20, had a plan of his own. He returned to Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012.
We know the outcome of that fatal trip Adam took to his old elementary school…but this long article details interviews with people who knew Adam and Nancy Lanza, and gives us a look at a sick boy who needed help desperately, and a mother who seemed to take two different approaches when dealing with her sons illnesses.
The impression I get from the interviews is that Nancy handled Adam and his multiple mental illnesses differently before her divorce in 2008/2009…According to a longtime friend of Nancy’s, Marvin LaFontaine:
In kindergarten back in Kingston, he had been “coded,” or identified, as needing an “individual education plan” and extra attention, both in the classroom and at home, LaFontaine said.
“There was a shyness and a learning thing and they were trying to unravel it,” he said of Adam, whom Nancy Lanza would bring along to Ryan’s Cub Scout meetings.
“Adam was a quiet kid. He never said a word,” LaFontaine said. “There was a weirdness about him and Nancy warned me once at one of the Scout meetings … ‘Don’t touch Adam.’ She said he just can’t stand that. … He’d become teary-eyed and I think he would run to his mother.”
LaFontaine recalled that at one of the Scout meetings in Kingston, Adam, a slight child with a mop of curly brownish-red hair, became immersed in a crafts assignment but still exhibited the signs that would define his life: He was withdrawn, said next to nothing, was resistant to touch, and tended to exist in his own world.
On that day, LaFontaine watched Nancy Lanza approach Adam. LaFontaine knew virtually no one could touch Adam without the boy recoiling.
His mother leaned down and whispered something in the boy’s ear. Then she kissed him gently on the back of his head. The boy did not say anything, or move or acknowledge the kiss in any way. But he did not draw back.
“He didn’t seem to mind that,” LaFontaine recalled thinking.
There seems to be a history of folks coming in contact with Nancy and/or Adam Lanza, then poof…no further relations are made or kept.
From mothers of Adams classmates, to teachers and high school tech club sponsors, to Nancy’s youngest brother and Adam’s own brother, and father…people come into the Lanza’s lives and then fall out…never to follow-up or have further contact with a mother and son who needed a friend or community support.
Read the article and you will see, a pattern of significant changes and withdraws in Adam’s life that does not mesh with the professional opinions on how to take care of a child with the kind of mental illnesses Adam had.
She seems attentive and welcomed the help and understanding a few teachers, friends and family members that had a part of Adam’s life. Then later, after her divorce and in the time period before Adam killed all those people, Nancy would leave her son alone for days at a time…isolated in the basement. Nancy no longer would speak with her brother, or other close friends…Adam was kept from talking to Nancy’s brother too. There is also some discussion of Adam withdrawing from contact with his father Paul and brother Ryan.
This is a kid who was supposed to suffer from sensory disorders and other mental illnesses, who did not feel pain and had an extra-sensitive reaction to sights, sounds and touch. He would shut down and retreat into a corner, according to the sponsor of the Newtown High School Tech Club, he would sit there not moving or saying anything…like he was in some kind of catatonic state. (Don’t know if that is the technical term, but from the descriptions in the article, Adam would not even acknowledge or look at his tech club teacher when he was in this withdrawn state.)
So this kid who could not take loud noises…his mother would take him shooting. She would leave him alone for long periods of time when it was obvious he needed to have constant supervision. I don’t want to sound like I am faulting Nancy Lanza, but it is very strange when you see how many life changes this kid went through. This is a child who had more changes in his early and secondary education than a “normal” kid would be able to handle. It seems like there were contradictions left and right when it came to Nancy’s treatment and care of Adam.
Anyway, give the article a read, and take a look at the rest of these links below…