Unaddressed childhood trauma changes how we respond to the world and when triggered, we make choices that sometimes have devastating consequences including domestic violence, addiction, murder, and prison.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Quiz
is one of the largest studies that assess the link between child
maltreatment and later-life health and well-being.
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 health problems.
You can take the test below:
So, you've got your score. Now what?
First, remember that the ACE score isn't a crystal ball; it's just meant as guidance. It tells you about one type of risk factor among many. It doesn't directly take into account your diet or genes, or whether you smoke or drink excessively — to name just a few of the other major influences on health.
To learn more, check the CDC's ACE Study website. You'll find, among other things, a list of studies that explore the ways adverse childhood experiences have been linked to a variety of adult conditions, ranging from increased headaches to depression to heart disease. Remember this, too: ACE scores don't tally the positive experiences in early life that can help build resilience and protect a child from the effects of trauma. Having a grandparent who loves you, a teacher who understands and believes in you, or a trusted friend you can confide in may mitigate the long-term effects of early trauma, psychologists say. "There are people with high ACE scores who do remarkably well," says Jack Shonkoff, a pediatrician and director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. Resilience, he says, builds throughout life, and close relationships are key. Recent research also suggests that for adults, "trauma informed" therapy — which can center on art, yoga or mindfulness training — can help.