An ACE score is a tally of different types of abuse, neglect, and other hallmarks of a rough childhood. According to the Adverse Childhood Experiences study, the rougher your childhood, the higher your score is likely to be and the higher your risk for later (mental and physical) health problems.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 physical and mental health consequences
1) Before your 18th birthday, did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you?
act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?
2) Before your 18th birthday, did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often…
push, grab, slap, or throw something at you?
ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?
3) Before your 18th birthday, did an adult or person at least five years older than you ever…
touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way?
attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?
4) Before your eighteenth birthday, did you often or very often feel that…
no one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special?
your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?
5) Before your 18th birthday, 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?
your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?
6) Before your 18th birthday, was a biological parent ever lost to you through divorce, abandonment, or other reason?
7) Before your 18th birthday, was your mother or stepmother:
often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her?
sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard?
ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?
8) Before your 18th birthday, did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?
9) Before your 18th birthday, was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?
10) Before your 18th birthday, did a household member go to prison?
Give one point for every yes and total them up. That is your ACE Score.
Now that you’ve got your ACE score, what does it mean?
As you’ve read over the past few weeks in my blog post, the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study) uncovered a stunning link between childhood trauma and the chronic diseases people develop as adults, as well as social and emotional problems. This includes heart disease, lung cancer, diabetes and many autoimmune diseases, as well as depression, violence, being a victim of violence, and suicide.
The first research results were published in 1998, followed by 57 other publications through 2011. They showed that:
- childhood trauma was very common, even in employed white middle-class, college-educated people with great health insurance;
- there was a direct link between childhood trauma and adult onset of chronic disease, as well as depression, suicide, being violent and a victim of violence;
- more types of trauma increased the risk of health, social and emotional problems.
- people usually experience more than one type of trauma – rarely is it only sex abuse or only verbal abuse.
A whopping two thirds of the 17,000 people in the ACE Study had an ACE score of at least one — 87 percent of those had more than one. Eighteen states have done their own ACE surveys; their results are similar to the CDC’s ACE Study.
The study’s researchers came up with an ACE score to explain a person’s risk for chronic disease. Think of it as a cholesterol score for childhood toxic stress. You get one point for each type of trauma. The higher your ACE score, the higher your risk of health and social problems. (Of course, other types of trauma exist that could contribute to an ACE score, so it is conceivable that people could have ACE scores higher than 10; however, the ACE Study measured only 10 types.)
As your ACE score increases, so does the risk of disease, social and emotional problems. With an ACE score of 4 or more, things start getting serious. The likelihood of chronic pulmonary lung disease increases 390 percent; hepatitis, 240 percent; depression 460 percent; suicide, 1,220 percent.
(By the way, lest you think that the ACE Study was yet another involving inner-city poor people of color, take note: The study’s participants were 17,000 mostly white, middle and upper-middle class college-educated San Diegans with good jobs and great health care – they all belonged to the Kaiser Permanente health maintenance organization.)
The GOOD NEWS:
EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) or more commonly called tapping is a low-risk acupressure technique that calms the limbic structures of the brain, enabling clients to regulate their over-aroused systems, and eliminating the flashbacks, nightmares and terror that plague traumatized adults and children. EFT is a trauma-focused practice grounded in neuroscience research and Eastern preventive medicine that engages neuroplasticity to restore development. ~School of Social Welfare University of Albany
When danger threatens – or when traumatic memories surface which make our current situation “feel” dangerous — the amygdala (threat control center in the brain) sends out signals that stimulate cortisol production, putting us into fight or flight. When we are emotionally “triggered” in this way, when an event in the present reminds our subconscious of (say) a childhood trauma, we often go into a painful fight or flight “freak out,” even though we’re not in danger right now. Dr. David Feinstein, clinical psychologist, say’s that ancient acupuncture, and tapping on acupressure points (EFT Tapping) biologically calms the brain. Dr. Feinstein and his Harvard colleagues who have done lab studies believe EFT tapping stimulates the production of hormones which message the amygdala that our situation is actually safe, so the amygdala stops the cortisol flood and turns down or off the threat response.
If you are interested in having a chat about EFT and to see if it would be beneficial for you please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or text 253-441-9963 and let’s set up a complimentary 30 minute phone conversation. Let’s see if this may be a good fit for you. Perhaps those painful emotional buttons that were installed in childhood and have gotten pushed over and over and over since you were a young child protected you when you needed protected but perhaps aren’t serving you anymore. As an Inner Child Advocate I look forward to hearing from you! I understand, I’ve been there and EFT has been a life saver for me and it continues to be. You never know when those internal triggers, or buttons, will get pushed. It’s wonderful to have a tool to help you calm yourself, often in moments, instead of hours, days or weeks or especially years.
Fear is expensive… Emotional Freedom is priceless!
PS Please note: if you have overwhelming trauma, do NOT tap alone! Use a trained practitioner, or don’t tap. Mammals are not built to be alone, period; it’s just not safe to feel really extreme feelings alone. Your results may vary because every person is different, however, people with others to support them tend to get better results.