The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are based on a longitudinal study conducted by the USA centre for disease control beginning in 1995. The ACE study involved 17,337 participants, which focused on childhood adversity, disruptive and hurtful experiences.
The study resulted in identifying ten specific Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). The study revealed that 2 out of 3 people had at least one or more ACE and the prevalence of ACEs proved to be a strong predictor even into adulthood, of difficulties with learning, social functioning, and health and well being. The CDC now considers the ACEs the most critical public health crisis that affects the mental, physical, and emotional health of both children and adults. The CDC has determined that the ACEs are “the nation’s worst health crisis, and its least known”.
Exposure to an Adverse Childhood Experience was found to disrupt normal brain development. If repeated trauma/toxic stress occurs early in life, the brain becomes wired for survival, putting an individual in a heightened state of fight, flight or freeze.
Take a look at the following questionnaire to determine how many of the 10 Adverse Childhood Experiences you encountered before the age of 18 years.
While you were growing up, during your first 18 years of life:
1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often … Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt? Yes No If yes enter 1 ________
2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often … Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured? Yes No If yes enter 1 ________
3. Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever… Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Try to or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal sex with you? Yes No If yes enter 1 ________
4. Did you often feel that … No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other? Yes No If yes enter 1 ________
5. Did you often feel that … You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it? Yes No If yes enter 1 ________
6. Were your parents ever separated or divorced? Yes No If yes enter 1 ________
7. Was your mother or stepmother: Often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes or often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife? Yes No If yes enter 1 ________
8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic or who used street drugs? Yes No If yes enter 1 ________
9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill or did a household member attempt suicide? Yes No If yes enter 1 ________
10. Did a household member go to prison? Yes No If yes enter 1 ________
Now add up your “Yes” answers: _______ This is your ACE Score
To learn more about the USA, Center for Disease Control ACE study: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Me07G3Erbw8