Adverse Childhood Experiences
THE ACE STUDY
The first large-scale population study which linked Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, to poor adult health outcomes, published in 1998, was conducted by a partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Kaiser Permanente. The study compared 10 categories of negative childhood experiences to a long list of poor health outcomes which includes heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and even depression.
The study revealed that ACEs are incredibly common, with 64% of the population having experienced at least 1 ACE. The study also discovered that the more ACEs a person had the higher their risk for health complications throughout life.
The 10 ACE categories studied do not account for all possible types of childhood adversity.
- Parental divorce or separation
- Witnessing household violence
- Incarcerated household member
- Household substance abuse
- Household mental illness
PUBLIC DOCUMENTARY SCREENINGS
The Snohomish Health District regularly offers public screenings of the documentary Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope.
Email S. McHatton if you are interested in organizing a community or professional screening of the documentary.
How does childhood adversity lead to poor adult health outcomes?
The evidence points to toxic levels of stress. Toxic stress occurs when a child experiences strong, frequent, and/or prolonged adversity in the absence of a safe, stable, and nurturing adult.
Toxic stress can disrupt or damage all of a child's developing systems. Disruption of brain development may lead to increases in learning difficulties, hyperactivity, or problems with memory and attention. Repeated or severe activation of stress hormones can increase levels of inflammation throughout the body which can then, over time, lead to damage to the heart and arteries. Toxic stress can even damage the immune system leading to a higher risk of infection or development of autoimmune diseases.
What is Resilience?
Resilience is the ability to adjust or "bounce back" after something bad has happened. It is the buffer to adversity. It can be developed and strengthened throughout life.
BUILDING RESILIENCE IN CHILDREN
Children begin developing resilience from the moment they are born. The infant learns to trust in the first year of life, and the toddler begins to test her or his independence, developing self-regulation skills and initiative. What children learn related to relationships, self-regulation, and initiative can impact their ability to function as adults. Trusted caregivers can foster resilience during these critical stages of development by providing safe, stable, and nurturing environments for children to build their skills and thrive.
Sesame Street addresses trauma and resilience!
The Everett Public Library has compiled a children’s book list (PDF) of 31 titles that demonstrate resilience. Organized by age group-Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers, the list provides a brief description to help you and your child find the right fit.
Reading to your child can support a nurturing relationship that can last a lifetime, and the books provide the opportunity to teach children how to talk about and manage their emotions to develop resiliency.
Seeking additional support?
If you have Medicaid, try calling the Washington Mental Health Access Line at 888-693-7200.
For any other insurance carrier try calling the number on the back of the insurance card or log onto their website and search for provider coverage.