Published February 21, 2013
Connecticut school shooter Adam Lanza had been diagnosed with a controversial disorder that made it hard for him to deal with sights, touch and smell and Asperger's syndrome, a new report claimed Tuesday.
The report, a joint venture of PBS' "Frontline" and The Hartford Courant, provides perhaps the most detailed account to date of 20-year-old Lanza and his mother Nancy, who was one of the 27 people shot to death on Dec. 14 in Newtown.
Through interviews with family friends and anonymous emails allegedly from family members, a picture emerges of a young man who could not stand to be touched and was virtually isolated from the outside world by the time of the massacre.
Marvin LaFontaine met Nancy Lanza when their children were in Cub Scouts together, and says he kept in touch with her over the years. He provided reporters with home footage of Nancy, Adam and other children and parents at an outing.
LaFontaine says Adam Lanza had been flagged in kindergarten as requiring an "individual education plan" because of special needs.
"There was a shyness and a learning thing and they were trying to unravel it," he says of Adam in the report."Adam was a quiet kid. He never said a word. 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."
The report says Adam Lanza went to both public and private schools during his elementary and middle schools years, including Sandy Hook Elementary, where police say he killed 20 children and six adults in the shooting spree.
Once Adam Lanza reached high school, he eventually joined a technology club run by Richard Novia, who served as security chief for Newtown schools. Novia says he immediately identified the teen as a possible target for bullies, and reached out to Nancy Lanza.
"I interacted with his parent early on to find out as much as I could," Novia says in the report. "As a staff member, and certainly a person who's going to be overseeing your child, I need to know what I'm dealing with … so my interaction with Nancy Lanza was really, 'Tell me about Adam. Tell me what, how you deal with Adam.'"
Novia claims Nancy Lanza said her son had been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome and sensory integration disorder. The latter disorder, which is not widely accepted in the medical community, means he would have had difficulty coping with loud noises, bright lights, confusion, and change. Adam Lanza also would have not responded appropriately to pain.
The report says after Adam Lanza left high school, he attended a local college for a bit but it didn't stick. A friend of his father Peter said Adam Lanza stopped communicating with his father in 2010, a year after his parents got divorced.
"Something happened with Adam," the person says in the report. "Given the amount of time they were spending with each other, it was a sudden shift."