OK, not all of life is a picnic, and not every blog is a butterflies and kittens topic. However, there are realities in life affecting many in our very midst, and you can’t see it with the naked eye. It is very important, especially in our region, to become familiar with ACEs, which stands for Adverse Childhood Events. It is an evidence-based concept where research conducted years ago (1995) studied adults with chronic health conditions in a new way for the first time. Could these conditions possibly be linked to what happened to them in childhood? And the ACEs study was born.
The initial survey revealed that the more bad things that happened to children, their risk for major health problems increased. This is called the ACEs score. (Take the quiz yourself.)
Over the years, the study has been greatly expanded and refined, and an entire area of study regarding childhood trauma, physical and emotional health has uncovered a large amount of understanding in this essential area. The three principal types of ACEs are abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction, with more detailed subcategories of those, found in the quiz link above.
We now know that not only is physical health impacted by ACEs, so is emotional health, actual brain development, ability to learn, social functioning, and more (see the pyramid below and refer to both links above – this topic is huge!).
It’s not all bad news, though, so don’t stop reading. First, the ACEs score is one predictor, not a guarantee, and future health is influenced by many other factors. Second, if you’ve followed this blog, you know a lot on resilience and there are many with high ACEs scores who are very resilient despite it all. There are protective factors, and a major relationship with another close adult can do amazing things as long as a child has even one strong connection to someone to whom they can turn. A high ACEs score does not spell doom.
Most importantly, remember this: when a child is behaving really badly, first always ask yourself, “Is something wrong with the child, or did something wrong happen to the child?” This could make all the difference