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ACEs are disruptions to the promotion of safe, stable, and nurturing family relationships and are characterized by stressful or traumatic events that occur during an individual’s first 18 years of life.
Research consistently indicates that limiting ACEs is central to healthy child development and wellness across an individual’s lifespan.
An ACE score is a tally of different types of abuse, neglect, and other hallmarks of a rough childhood.
A majority of Americans have at least one or more ACEs.
A child’s sense of safety and stability and exacerbating levels of toxic stress can harm aspects of the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems and lead to disrupted neurodevelopment across the lifespan.
Childhood trauma and household challenges correlate with lifetime depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Approximately 2/3 of suicide attempts are attributable to exposure to forms of trauma encompassed in ACEs.
Lead to social, emotional, and cognitive impairment, and the adoption of health risk behaviors (e.g. smoking, drug use, disordered eating, unsafe sexual behaviors – often adopted as coping mechanisms).
Socio-economic indicators (e.g. educational attainment, employment, and income) are often interconnected and serve as determinants to subsequent life opportunities, which impact a person’s health and quality of life.
Incorporating ACEs into risk assessments and treatment plans can catalyze access to intervention services and wraparound treatment for children and families.
Regularly screening for early adversities allows clinicians to work with children and families to address any immediate threats, and provide referrals to appropriate services.
Utilizing trauma-informed approaches to acknowledge the impact of trauma, recognize its symptoms, respond to its effects, and work towards preventing further traumatization.
Determining the most effective treatment modality will undoubtedly be a personalized and varied process for each child but ultimately should provide individuals with the tools to lead healthy, productive, and fulfilling lives.
ACEs are a prominent public health issue due to their shortand long-term ramifications on health, wellbeing, and life potential, all amounting to estimated hundreds of billions of dollars in economic and social costs each year.Download the What Are ACEs? Infographic for Clinicians (.pdf)