Know Your ACEs So Your Kid Doesn’t Know ACEs
What exactly are Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)?ACEs are adverse childhood experiences that harm children’s developing brains, leading to changing how they respond to stress and damaging their immune systems so profoundly that the effects show up decades later. ACEs can be connected to much of our burden of chronic disease, most mental illness, and may be at the root of most violence.
Specifically, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanenté measure ten ACEs that hinder early childhood development:
- Physical, sexual and verbal abuse.
- Physical and emotional neglect.
- A family member who is:
depressed or diagnosed with other mental illness;
addicted to alcohol or another substance;
- Witnessing a mother being abused.
- Losing a parent to separation, divorce or other reason.
ACE STUDY RESULTS – THIS IS IMPORTANT!
Here is one of the most important (at least to my eyes) results of the ACE study. Two-thirds of the 17,000 respondents in the ACE study identified with at least one of the above ACEs. That is over 11,300 people, and, in this group, 87% identified more than one of the experiences on the list.
As your ACE score increases, so does the risk of disease and social and emotional problems. With an ACE score of 4 or more, the likelihood of chronic pulmonary lung disease increases 390%; hepatitis, 240%; depression 460%, suicide 1,220%. (Source: https://acestoohigh.com/got-your-ace-score/ )
I’M NOT ALONE
Always looking for the positive side to any problem that requires solutions, I actually take some solace in these numbers. Why, you may ask? I’ll tell you.
Without revealing specifics, I will say that I experienced ACEs in my growing up. While I realize that we live in a culture that can stigmatize circumstances that are perceived as negative, I also realize that there is strength in numbers, and I am statistically but one in an army of folks who grew up with some difficult challenges. Therefore, I realize that I’m not alone here, and that there is nothing shameful in my having had these experiences. I can relax, and breathe a bit easier knowing I’m not alone.
Now that I realize that my experiences aren’t unique, it is easier to deal when them, and not just shove them in a drawer to be forgotten like last year’s Christmas socks. The job and the challenge for me is in how I deal with my past at the same time that I am part of creating what will be a past in my son’s life. As I review my life story, I am also a big part of making Ian’s movie in real time. And that is a very cool opportunity for us both.
ACEs AS A PARENT’S RESOURCE
When I look at anything in my past that may relate to ACEs, I then transpose that experience into the present. I visualize how it would affect my son, and I devise strategies that will create a better experience. What I do not try to do is to avoid the unpleasantness of the past. I don’t rent it a lot of space in my head, but I do keep it all on the desk, so to speak, and not hidden away in a drawer. It is a resource I can go to when challenges arise, and, as we all know, those challenges arise daily. It’s all about how we greet these challenges, and don’t forget, you’re not going to get a hit every time you go to the plate. Be easy on yourself as you navigate these waters. It is tough work, but work which will pay off tremendously for your whole family. You can find out more and get your ACEs score at ACEs Too High.