She said Lanza told her she was considering taking Adam out of Sandy Hook and enrolling him in a local parochial school "because classes were smaller and she thought he might do better there."

When she did not see Adam at Sandy Hook the following school year, Wipprecht said, she assumed he went to the parochial school.

Problems Escalate

But Adam never actually left the Newtown school district. He remained enrolled, entering a special program in which he did prepared lessons at home, according to a family member of Nancy Lanza who asked not to be identified.

Lanza would take Adam back to Sandy Hook Elementary after hours to do the work he could not do at home. In this manner, Adam stayed connected to Sandy Hook, and was one of the students who signed a school T-shirt in 2003, when he was a fifth-grader.

Adam's problems with social interaction and communicating with others began to escalate in middle school, when the chaos and noise of students changing classes upset him. Nancy Lanza's response was to withdraw Adam from the middle school.

But when Lanza again raised the possibility of moving to a smaller town with smaller schools, a professional in the Newtown system told her that Adam needed stability and that moving would be the worst thing she could do, the family member said.

She took that advice and stayed put, but she wasn't always accepting of help for Adam.

"There's a lot of counseling help available and not all of it's good," said LaFontaine. "She was very particular about who she would bring him to."

"She often didn't trust … the intentions of some counselors, maybe [thought] they didn't really … know what they were doing, or they didn't understand the situation enough to help," said LaFontaine.

Adam began eighth grade at St. Rose of Lima School in Newtown. But he stayed for less than half the year before Nancy Lanza withdrew her son, diocesan officials said. The problems he had there followed a familiar refrain: He was shy, withdrawn, and had little contact with his classmates.

Kateleen Foy, now an undergraduate at Hofstra University in New York, said she was at St. Rose of Lima with Adam.

She recalled that he joined the class after the school year began and left before school got out for the summer.

"He was really shy, really painfully shy," Foy said. "He was a little hard to talk to."

Foy said she didn't recall seeing Lanza again after he left St. Rose until she spotted him in a hall while they were students at Newtown High School.

In high school, "There were never any concrete signs of anything like [violence]. He went with the flow. ... He flew under the radar," Foy said.

Asperger's is a disorder that is part of the autism spectrum. It is marked by difficulty with social interaction. Many with Asperger's are otherwise high-functioning people. There is no predisposition toward violence among those with Asperger's, experts say.

"It's very important for people to know that there is absolutely no correlation between the diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome and a predilection toward violent behavior," said Dr. Harold Schwartz, chief psychiatrist at the Institute of Living in Hartford.

In 2006, Adam entered Newtown High School, a 376,000-square-foot building that sits like a fortress off Berkshire Road. More than 1,700 students enjoy such amenities as newly renovated athletic fields, a cutting-edge library and the state's largest school auditorium.

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