What’s Your ACE Score? Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study)

Three Types of ACEs

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There are 10 types of childhood trauma measured in the ACE Study. Five are personal — physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect. Five are related to other family members: a parent who’s an alcoholic, a mother who’s a victim of domestic violence, a family member in jail, a family member diagnosed with a mental illness, and the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death or abandonment. Each type of trauma counts as one. So a person who’s been physically abused, with one alcoholic parent, and a mother who was beaten up has an ACE score of three.

There are, of course, many other types of childhood trauma — racism, bullying, watching a sibling being abused, losing a caregiver (grandmother, mother, grandfather, etc.), homelessness, surviving and recovering from a severe accident, witnessing a father being abused by a mother, witnessing a grandmother abusing a father, involvement with the foster care system, involvement with the juvenile justice system, etc. The ACE Study included only those 10 childhood traumas because those were mentioned as most common by a group of about 300 Kaiser members; those traumas were also well studied individually in the research literature.

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 health consequences.

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ACEs Increase Health Risks

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 various health problems later.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Credit: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

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Prior to 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? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever… Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Did you often or very often feel that … No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

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? or Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Were your parents ever separated or divorced?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Was your mother or stepmother:

Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide? No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Did a household member go to prison?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Now add up your “Yes” answers: _ This is your ACE Score

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5 responses to this post.

  1. I scored 😦

  2. Posted by rudid96 on November 2, 2020 at 2:37 pm

    Interesting. When I added up my ACE score with the given items, I only had a score of 4. Not even half. One would think I made it under the wire. However these are not mere numbers on a page. They’re markers that set the stage for life choices that often lead to a repetition of neglect, abuse and dysfunction. Not an easy life picture

  3. I think that is a brief list

    I was not sexually molested and my parents thought food on the table was good parenting but my childhood was horrendous

    Look at the big picture

    It is how traumatic we perceive our abuse along with how many times and how long the abuse went on.

    For me my dad groomed me with criticism and violence, everyday

    I could score one but that one was all consuming

    I have to say psychology on a whole is extremely disappointing to me.

    Try to find out what therapies work the best for ptsd, how long of a duration does it take to heal, ballpark for PTSD and then for C-PTSD

    no answers are available for us

    Therapy is set up more for insurance companies and therapist to schedule and get paid over the long run

    Healing is not the most important thing

    That is depressing

    It is one of the only professional careers that you can be a total failure and have a financially great career.

    You get paid if you do not heal anyone

    Seems the therapists who help people heal should be rewarded

    Therapy should be a results oriented profession

  4. Posted by rudid96 on November 2, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    Well said Marty. Therapists and TV Weather reporters are two professions that the public seems to have a high tolerance for ineptitude.

  5. I think there are many therapists who should of gone into research.

    Just because you get a degree is psychology, does not mean you have any skill as a therapist.

    You can know all there is to know but have few people skills, no idea when or how to use your knowledge.

    You need timing and an ability to inspire your clients to take action, to do homework, to practice healing skills.

    That takes a confident therapist, well skilled and has a desire to help you heal.

    And then you must trust them or else we are wasting our time.

    And for us, damn, a therapist will not heal us.

    We will heal us with the direction and inspiration of our therapist

    And it is difficult to heal by yourself because ptsd is so irrational.

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