The report, released by the Office of Child Advocate, said records indicate that Lanza was on the autism spectrum and that there was “considerable evidence pointing to mental health issues beyond autism, such as an anxiety disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and suicidal ideation.” The 6-foot Lanza was also anorexic, weighing 120 pounds at the time that he killed his mother at her home and then drove to the school, where he killed students and adults and then himself.
The report detailed Lanza’s history and some provocative questions:
Would a similar family from a different race or lower socio-economic status in the community have been given the same benefit of the doubt that AL’s family was given? Is the community more reluctant to intervene and more likely to provide deference to the parental judgment and decision-making of white, affluent parents than those caregivers who are poor or minority? Would AL’s caregivers’ reluctance to maintain him in school or a treatment program have gone under the radar if he were a child of color?
The report said the questions were “meant for reflection, rather than blame” but “point to the need for further development of models to use in the child protection system so that families may be better engaged with effective treatment.”
Lanza, the report says, showed an early obsession with violence, but it was ignored by virtually all of the adults around him.
In the course of AL’s entire life, minimal mental health evaluation and treatment (in relation to his apparent need) was obtained. Of the couple of providers that saw AL, only one — the Yale Child Study Center — seemed to appreciate the gravity of AL’s presentation, his need for extensive mental health and special education supports, and the critical need for medication to ease his obsessive-compulsive symptoms.
He did not get help and withdrew from most of his classes in 10th grade and was permitted to study independently, and graduate at age 17, because he was mistakenly seen as having academic gifts, when they were actually average, the report said.
The report includes a series of recommendations for families and schools, including comprehensive mental health screenings by doctors and schools and better coordination among health and educational professionals so that schools and families can get support for troubled children.
Here’s the full report: