Adam Lanza's mother struggled to raise her hypersensitive, Asperger's-diagnosed child and seems to have made a couple of fatal mistakes along the way, reports the Hartford Courant. In a joint investigation with PBS—which plans a week of shows on Newtown—the Courant draws a portrait of a woman juggling advice from school counselors while dealing with her own health problems and the dissolution of her marriage. Among the key findings:
- Adam was problematic from the beginning. Nancy suffered acute morning sickness while pregnant with him and took a leave of absence from work in John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co. After having Adam by cesarean section, her bosses became more critical of her work and let her go while on maternity leave. She sued Hancock, and the case was settled.
- The family moved from New Hampshire to Newtown, Conn., where Adam—now diagnosed with sensory disorder—was very shy and didn't like being touched by anyone but Nancy. "There was a weirdness about him and Nancy warned me once at one of the Scout meetings … 'Don't touch Adam,'" says a friend. "He'd become teary-eyed and I think he would run to his mother."
- But Adam joined his high school's brainiac tech club, where adviser Richard Novia tried to penetrate Adam's solitary world and empower him against bullies. Nancy nervously let Novia integrate Adam with other students, "and I think we saw some success," he says. But at times Adam "would completely withdraw. ... He would pull back within himself entirely."
- Novia was shocked by Nancy's decision to pull Adam out of high school after his sophomore year and let him attend college. "So suddenly, when she pulls him out of there, he loses all those support groups," he says. "He loses his school psychologist, he loses the devoted school administrators."
- Her exposing Adam to firearms surprised him even more. He called it "a serious mistake" to let a child with mental disorders use guns. But others said Nancy loved shooting because it helped her bond with Adam and his older brother, Ryan. A friend says target shooting "was definitely her outlet."
- After Adam dropped out of college and spent untold hours playing violent games in his room, Nancy—now divorced from husband Peter—planned moving with Adam to Washington state and living with him "for a very long time," says a friend. "But she never got the chance," reports the Courant. "Adam Lanza had plans of his own."
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. Or see why Nancy squashed Adam's dream of joining the Marines.