What are the ACEs?

What are the ACEs?

ACEs, or Adverse Childhood Experiences, is a term used to describe types of abuse, from neglect and violence, to mental/emotional abuse, or other traumatic or distressed family environments that children under 18 may experience. Childhood experiences of any kind, positive and negative, sets the course for our lifelong development. ACEs are found to have a strong impact on a person’s health throughout their life, with higher scores correlating with substance abuse disorders, mental health disorders, and even physical health issues such as chronic heart disease and obesity.

There are 10 types of childhood trauma measured in the ACE Study and part of the ACE Questionnaire. There are, of course, many other types of childhood trauma — watching a sibling being abused, losing a caregiver (grandmother, mother, grandfather, etc.), homelessness, surviving and recovering from a severe accident, witnessing abuse between caregivers, etc. The ACEs include only a select 10 childhood traumas because those were the most common in a group of roughly 300 individuals in the original study. ACEs have been studied extensively since, amounting to more than 17,000 people nationally through a CDC-Kaiser Permanente study, with another 18 state conducting their own ACE research.

An ACE score of 4 or more is linked to higher prevalence of health issues. The most important thing to remember is that the ACE score is meant as a guideline: If you experienced other types of toxic stress over months or years, then those would likely increase your risk of health consequences. See the Questionnaire below.

For information on Oregon ACEs click here. For Linn, Benton, and Lincoln County ACEs (study conducted in 2014) click here.

ACE Questionnaire

Prior to your 18th birthday:

  1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very 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?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?
    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 Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  4. Did you often or very 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?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  5. Did you often or very 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?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  6. Were your parents ever separated or divorced?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  7. Was your mother or stepmother:
    Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very 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?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?                                                                          No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  10. Did a household member go to prison?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Now add up your “Yes” answers: _____ This is your ACE Score

Learn more about ACEs:

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