Sonya Thomas lcsw

What is your ACE score, and why does it matter?

The ACE (adverse childhood events) quiz is a list of 10 questions that take less than a minute to answer, probing for exposure in childhood to abuse, neglect, and dysfunction in your environment.  The ACE score is correlated with a range of conditions in adulthood, including depression, anxiety and substance abuse to serious health conditions such as cardiovascualar disease and cancer.

ACEs are found in every segment of the US population, across every racial, socioeconomic and cultural community.  They are the story of all people from all walks of life who are dealt a hand that increase their odds for medical, financial and social/ emotional  struggles in adulthood.  The conclusion of several solid studies show a strong graded relationship between the breadth of exposure to abuse, neglect and/or household dysfunction during childhood and multiple risk factors for several of the leading causes of death in adults.

The good news is that a high ACE score does not have to equate to destiny.  From the linked article above, “remember this, too: ACE scores don’t tally the positive experiences in early life that can help build resilience and protect a child from the effects of trauma. Having a grandparent who loves you, a teacher who understands and believes in you, or a trusted friend you can confide in may mitigate the long-term effects of early trauma, psychologists say.”

“There are people with high ACE scores who do remarkably well,” says Jack Shonkoff, a pediatrician and director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.

Resilience can build throughout life, and close relationships are key. Research also suggests that for adults, “trauma informed” therapy — which can center on art, yoga or mindfulness training — can help.

Until next time, peace.