Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Further Reflections on the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre

Two days have passed since I first posted my thoughts about the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.  I am becoming increasingly concerned that the news media and others investigating this disaster have not indicated that they will investigate whether there may be a connection between the manner in which the Newtown School District addressed Adam Lanza's special needs arising out of ASD and comorbid disorders, and the 20 year-old former student's horrific acts.
While official investigators do not appear to be acknowledging that this may be an elephant in the room, many parents, like Liza Long ("I am Adam Lanza's Mother"), are not only aware of it, but are on the verge of being crushed by it.  Even in the small state of Iowa, since Sunday, even I have received several calls from parents of children diagnosed with ASD and one or more co-morbid psychiatric disorder, who are expressing fears that their children may be demonstrating potential for violence.

Each of these parents began by saying that while they have been worried about their children's risk of suicide, since Sandy Hook, they have become worried that if someday their children were to have access to guns or explosives, they might strike back at the school system in which they have been miserable . . . failing . . . isolated . . . bullied . . . physically/emotionally uncomfortable . . . etc.  All of the parents indicated that they believe the inability of their public school districts to adequately understand and address their children's needs is driving increases in their children's levels of self injury, withdrawal and isolation, and verbal and physical aggression. 

In response to my questions, all of the parents indicated that their children are receiving private medical services and other outpatient treatment, and that some are covered by Iowa's Children's Mental Health Waiver, while others are on the waiting list for the waiver.  Despite their descriptions of some rather specatcular records of truancy, suspensions, physical and verbal aggression, property damage and academic failure, according to the parents, not one of their children's IEP teams have ever mentioned the possibility that in connection with the school's duty under state and federal law to provide a continuum of placements, the school might provide the child with placement in a school with intensive therapeutic services.

While it is unreasonable to consider children diagnosed ASD as potential mass murderers, those investigating the perfect storm that produced the Sandy Hook massacre cannot ignore the research has demonstrated that some individuals diagnosed with ASD and significant levels of co-morbid psychiatric and/or central nervous system disorders, are at risk for high levels of abberant behaviors. 

On the basis of all of the above, I would like to reiterate that while it may be difficult in the wake of the Sandy Hook disaster for investigators to probe the terribly wounded Newtown School District, no meaningful investigation into the factors that produced the massacre can avoid taking a good look at the manner in which, only a few short years ago, the Newton School District addressed Adam Lanza's special needs.



  1. That needs a careful look indeed. Bullying by school districts is institutional. They are willing to spend a whole lot on lawyers to do it, instead of doing their jobs.

    But white-washed graves like bishops that schlep a child molestor from parish to parish almost always get a pass, and people expect no bad consequences from such injustice and indifference. It's amazing that there isn't more violence in response.

  2. What can an everyday person like myself do to make a difference? Is there anything at all? I am so saddened by this. I had the ability to remove my son from a hopeless situation within a terrible school district. They even tried bullying me!

  3. The most important thing we can do is to advocate for our children, and withstand the bullying that may come our way from people who are not walking in our shoes. Love your son, and hang in there.