Murderer Adam Lanza wasn’t a tortured anti-social genius. He had an average IQ and no learning disabilities, but soaring levels of anxiety, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Asperger’s and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. But he refused to take medication or engage in recommended behavioral therapies, according to the new report on the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. He wouldn’t handle door knobs, changed his clothes frequently and repeatedly washed his hands.
“Dance, Dance Revolution,” a video game in which people dance as directed, engaged the unemployed, possibly unemployable Adam Lanza, who made video recordings of himself dancing at home. At a nearby theater that had a commercial version of the game in its lobby, he would play the game on weekends for four to 10 hours up until about a month before the school massacre. At the same time that he played the non-violent dance game with a friend, Lanza confided that he had an interest in mass murders.
Growing up he loved Sandy Hook School, which he attended from first through fifth grades. But in pre-school his behaviors included repetitive traits, temper tantrums, excessive hand washing, “eating idiosyncrasies” and smelling things that weren’t there.
By fifth grade, for a class project he wrote a book in which the protagonist had a gun in her cane to shoot people. The story included violence against children, but was never turned in. Withdrawn, he initially loved music, studied the saxophone and played in school concerts in fifth and sixth grade. But as he grew older he became more of a loner. By seventh grade, Lanza stopped playing the sax and withdrew from athletics. He didn’t like the “noise and confusion” and didn’t like walking between classes. While at Newtown High School, from which he graduated in 2009, he was also home-schooled. He had non-violent “episodes” of up to 15 minutes in length that would prompt his mother to come to the school. Evaluations over the years showed Lanza with speech and language needs; and seizures. In 2005, he was diagnosed with Asperger’s, displaying symptoms of anxiety and social impairments. “It was also noted that he lacked empathy and had very rigid though processes. He had a literal interpretation of written and verbal material.”
“It is important to note that it is unknown what contribution, if any, the shooter’s mental health issues made to his attack on SHES,” the report says. “Those mental health professionals who saw him did not see anything that would have predicted his future behavior.”
The 43-page report is a profile of a troubled, well-armed young man who brought multiple weapons to Sandy Hook Elementary School – where he spent five of the happiest years of his younger life – along with his obsession for mass murder. After shooting his mother several times with a .22 rifle on the morning of December 14, he took a military-style semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle to the school, blasted through the front door, killed 20 first graders and six adults. At 9:40, he shot himself in the head with a Glock 10-mm pistol in Classroom 10, near the body of Victoria Soto, 27. Eleven of the children in Classroom 10 survived, with nine fleeing the room and two others hiding in the class restroom.