When Ross Mikalauskas came to Bancroft in 2010, he was struggling with severe behavior problems related to his autism. He would frequently hit himself and lash out. He couldn’t attend school. Even Ross’ appearance was off-putting: his face was obscured by long hair and a bushy beard, because he couldn’t tolerate shaves and haircuts.
Those difficult days are now over, thanks in large part to Bancroft. Today, 20-year-old Ross is full of smiles. He goes to school, enjoys music and exercising, and lives in a cheerful suburban house.
But mom Laura remembers how “devastating” their situation once was. “As Ross got older, he got bigger, more aggressive and out of control,” she recalls. “Our whole world was falling apart.”
At Bancroft, Ross made swift progress – starting at the Lindens behavioral program on the Haddonfield Campus. There, staff members refined his behavioral treatment program, which was begun a year earlier at the Kennedy Krieger Institute – one of a handful of programs similar to the Lindens, but which is based in a hospital.
The Lindens staff modified his behavioral program to make it more practical for a real-world setting. For instance, Ross previously had continuous access to toys and music. At the Lindens, the staff made these items part of a reward system. The result: Ross’ maladaptive behaviors continued to drop, and his adaptive behaviors rose.
Staff members also helped Ross return to school, by gradually building his tolerance for educational activities. Within a few months, Ross was attending The Bancroft School for a full, six-hour day.
Ross’ behavioral episodes dropped by 85 percent from his admission to Kennedy Krieger through his time at the Lindens. After just five months, Ross was able to transfer to an apartment on Bancroft’s Haddonfield Campus – a less restrictive, more normalized setting. Within another nine months, he transitioned to a Bancroft group home in nearby Cherry Hill, where he lives with four other young men.
Ross continues to attend The Bancroft School, which provides special education to age 21. He even volunteers for Meals on Wheels as part of his vocational training, helping to deliver food to people in need. And today, Ross rarely exhibits maladaptive behaviors.
Says Laura: “We’re so thrilled with Bancroft and how he’s done here.”