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How Do You Raise a Child Like Adam Lanza?

For months, FRONTLINE and the Hartford Courant have been investigating the young man who took the lives of so many in Newtown, Conn.

Through our reporting, at least one thing has become clear: His mother, Nancy, knew something was different about Adam, even from his days as a student at Sandy Hook Elementary.

But what? And how did Nancy, who worked so hard to help him, handle raising a child with developmental difficulties even as her older son flourished?

In the course of the investigation, Courant reporters Alaine Griffin and Josh Kovner met with Wendy Wipprecht, whose son was in Adam’s first-grade class when the two boys were just six years old. Watch this clip of their conversation, and the two-part series on the tragedy in Connecticut: Raising Adam Lanza and Newtown Divided.  

Raising Adam Lanza

(Hartford Courant) – Shortly after her move from New Hampshire to Newtown in 1998, Nancy Lanza had good news about her troubled son. Lanza wrote to a friend back in Kingston, N.H., in a Feb. 9, 1999, email:  

    “Adam is doing well here, and seems to be enjoying the new school.”

But 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.  

Earlier diaries posted @BooMan –  

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