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The Office of the Child Advocate's report on Adam Lanza tells a heartbreaking story.

posted Nov 28, 2014, 9:52 AM by Diane Willcutts   [ updated Nov 30, 2014, 11:10 AM ]
I never thought I would feel sorry for a mass murderer, but this report tells the story of a lost child and the systems and adults who failed him.  

In the report, I saw the stories of so many children with emotional disturbance.  And of course, the only reason I was ever introduced to these children was because their school districts were working so hard to not provide them with needed services.  I can't help wondering, did this happen in Newtown?

The 114-page report describes a boy who struggled throughout his school years, exhibiting debilitating anxiety, OCD, and difficulties with social interactions.  Over the years, he became more and more withdrawn and, by middle school, presented as clearly atypical, eventually receiving homebound tutoring from the District.  There was no consideration of a therapeutic school or some other services that might have addressed his needs.

My concern with the report was that it over-focused on the mother, seeming to blame her for refusing help that would have benefitted her child.  However, there was no record of the district ever offering appropriate help.  And from the report, it also seems likely that the mother had psychiatric needs of her own.

In addition, it's important to recognize that it is extremely challenging for many parents with disabilities to meet the child's needs on a day to day basis.  Many put so much energy into managing the immediate needs of their children that they don't ever get to the big picture.  

It reminds me of a story in Winnie-the-Pooh.  It talks about Christopher Robin taking Pooh down the stairs, with Pooh's head going bumpity, bump, bump on the stairs.  And Pooh is thinking that there is surely a better way to go down the stairs, and he might be able to think of it if only his head weren't going bumpity, bump, bump.  

The report describes Adam Lanza as being in agonizing pain for years before December 14, 2012.  I can't help wondering, if he had been given the help he needed, could we have avoided the mass murder in Newtown?