What are Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)? 

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) is a term that comes from the Center for Disease Control’s research, which shows a correlation between childhood trauma and adult health outcomes. The CDC found that children’s developing brains and central nervous systems are so profoundly affected by ACEs that they are the root cause of many chronic diseases, most mental illness and most violence.

The 10 ACEs measured in the research conducted by the Center for Disease Control are:

  1. Physical abuse
  2. Sexual abuse
  3. Verbal abuse
  4. Physical neglect
  5. Emotional neglect
  6. A family member who is depressed or diagnosed with other mental illness
  7. A family member who is addicted to alcohol or another substance
  8. A family member who is in prison
  9. Witnessing a mother being abused
  10. Losing a parent to separation, divorce or death

Many other types of trauma may also have an impact such as natural disasters and community violence.


What helps?

Creative Healing Arts are an effective resource for healing. Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of these methods and their impact on the brain, nervous system, and their long-term impact in fostering resilience. Since children learn primarily from experience and play, these action-oriented therapies have the ability to heal more quickly than traditional talk therapy alone. The National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) supports that many expressive therapies can affect change in mood and stress disorders as well as improve health outcomes. These resources, although not new, are still relatively unavailable to children due to lack of resources and underfunded programs.