Updated: Aug 22, 2018
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) affect our health, our wellbeing, our ability to thrive, not only as children, but for the rest of our lives. Dr. Nadine Burke Harris made this connection in her own practice, and she led the charge to track ACEs in her community. I've given a shout out to her here.
Years ago, I read about the ACEs study (sponsored by the CDC and Kaiser Permanente) in a magazine and it made so much sense! It inspired me to learn more -- and I did. I brought that research to a psychologist I knew at the time and was SHOCKED and disappointed that he didn't know about it. This extensive, well validated study clearly connects adverse experiences early in life with health outcomes.
When I learned about ACEs, I didn't immediately make the connection to my own life. Ironically, even though I was suffering from health issues, I saw the ACEs study through a socio-economic lens that didn't apply to me. A major (unconscious) cognitive bias on my part! Years later, when I finally took the ACEs quiz with a friend, it was a ground breaking experience. While I'd been aware of some adverse childhood events that seemed isolated, answering the survey revealed patterns I hadn't seen before, and addressing these traumas became instrumental in my healing journey.
While my home state of Washington is on board with tracking and addressing ACEs to improve health outcomes in underserved populations, many states are not. But even in Washington State, far too many people are like that psychologist I used to know: completely oblivious to the health impact of ACEs. Recognizing that we have been affected is the first step to healing, at any point in life.
If you decide to take the ACEs quiz for yourself, I recommend finding a buddy to do it with, since you too may be surprised by what becomes clear through your answers to the questions.