Are Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Impacting Your Life?
Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) is more than just abuse as defined and understood in common language. ACE expands beyond physical and sexual abuse and includes neglect, psychological and emotional abuse. Anyone can have an adverse (bad) childhood experience, no matter how rich or well-connected. That’s why leading mental health professionals are taking a closer look at how childhood trauma can have long-lasting health impacts well into adulthood.
What’s Your ACE Score?
Much like measuring your cholesterol or blood sugar, knowing your ACE score can help you understand the level of stress you’ve been exposed to as a child and how that trauma may be impacting you as an adult. Let’s take a closer look at what ACE looks like. Adverse childhood experiences include, but are not limited to the following:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Living with a drug/alcohol dependent person
- Witnessing the abuse of a parent or sibling
- Suffering neglect
- Having one or more absentee parent
Each of these negative experiences can impact the overall stress levels of children and by extension their health. Take this test to find out your ACE score.
How Are Your Affected?
Individuals who have adverse childhood experiences are impacted in countless ways and to different degrees.
Disrupted neurodevelopment. If trauma occurs early enough, a child’s neurological (brain) development can be delayed or completely disrupted (messed up). Symptoms of disrupted neurological development can include difficulty learning to read, behavioral problems, depression, unusual appetites (eating too much or too little), self-abuse (i.e. cutting) and harming animals.
Social, cognitive (thinking), and emotional impairment. Adults who have had adverse childhood experiences may find it difficult to develop meaningful relationships (especially romantic), make important decisions or provide the necessary emotional support to their own children or other loved ones.
High-risk behaviors. Adverse childhood experiences often means that people with trauma in their background may adopt high-risk behaviors in adulthood. This could include smoking, drinking, taking drugs, engaging in risky sexual activities, but it could also include overworking, playing dangerous sports, being an overachiever while neglecting other parts of their life.
Disease and Social Problems. When added together, childhood trauma often produces negative outcomes that result in disease and social issues. Individuals unable to properly cope with their childhood trauma might develop heart disease because they’ve overworked themselves and failed to care for their health. Or, they might overdose on narcotics because they’re a habitual drug user.
Unfortunately, for some victims of childhood trauma, early death is the final destination if they fail to get to the root of their troubles and replace harmful coping strategies with healthy ones.