Adverse Childhood Experiences

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ACE stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences which occur prior to your 18th birthday. Examples of adverse childhood experiences are physical, sexual and emotional abuse, as well as physical and emotional neglect. They also include, having a parent who is mentally ill, an alcoholic or substance abuser, in jail, or a victim of domestic violence, as well as the absence of a parent through divorce, death or abandonment. These are all ACEs.

Research has shown that traumatic, or stressful events in childhood (ACEs), injure a child’s brain, impairing the brain’s physical development and function. ACEs may cause kids to have difficulties learning, making friends, and trusting adults.

Your health could be impacted by your childhood experiences.

As adults, these experiences don’t go away. Multiple stressful events in childhood, may resurface in adulthood. The ACE Study found a stunning link between multiple stressful events in childhood (ACEs) and chronic diseases, as well as social, emotional and behavioral problems. These included heart disease, lung cancer, diabetes and many autoimmune diseases, as well as depression, mental illness, suicide, and being a victim of violence.

Each type of trauma counts as one. At least 70% of our population has an ACE score of at least one. As your ACE score increases, so does the risk of disease, social and emotional problems.

Your ACE Score

There are 10 types of stressful events in childhood in the ACE Study.

Five are Personal

emotional abuse
physical abuse
sexual abuse
emotional neglect
physical neglect

Five are Related to Other Family Members

absence of a parent though divorce, death or abandonment
a mother or stepmother who was treated violently
a household member who abused alcohol or drugs
a household member who was diagnosed with a mental illness
a household member who went to prison

Each type of event counts as one point of your ACE Score.

Learn your score.

Learn how to Build Resilience to a high ACE score.

Answer Quiz Questions about Experiences that Happened Prior to Your 18th Birthday.

I know my ACE Score...
What Do I Do Now?
Find out more HERE.

The higher the ACE Score is, the more likely a person is to experience an increased risk for the following health problems and diseases:

• Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse
• Illicit Drug Use
• Early Initiation of Smoking
• Smoking
• Early Initiation of Sexual Activity
• Adolescent Pregnancy
• Multiple Sexual Partners
• Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

• Unintended Pregnancies
• Fetal Death
• Risk for Intimate Partner Violence
• Depression
• Suicide Attempts
• Health-Related Quality of Life
• Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
• Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD)
• Liver Disease

*Note: Of course, there are many other types of stressful childhood events — watching a sibling being abused, losing a caregiver (grandmother, mother, grandfather, etc.), homelessness, surviving and recovering from a severe accident or experiencing a natural disaster, etc. The ACE Study includes the 10 most common stressful childhood events experienced by the 17,000 participants in the Kaiser ACE Study. These 10 stressful childhood events have been well studied in research literature. Your ACE score is meant to be a guideline. If you experienced other types of toxic stress as a child, over months or years, these events would likely increase your risk of disease, social and emotional problems in adulthood.

Join the Local ACEs Connection Network and Share your Stories of Resilience: Buncombe County ACEs Connection Group