What’s your ACE Score?

by Tyrone Dixon
Copyright © May 2018 All rights reserved.

A few years back I was at a conference with a colleague and the theme of the weekend was something called “The ACE Study”. The acronym ACE is short for Adverse Childhood Experiences, and the first study was done in the 90s by Vincent Felitti and Robert Anda.

These two gentlemen designed a questionnaire consisting of 10 categories of adverse childhood experiences, which included exposure to physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional neglect, mother treated violently in the home, substance abuse, and many other measures of household dysfunction.

Their idea was to create correlation between being exposed to trauma/chronic stress at an early age, and growing to become an adult who has mental instability, is addicted to drugs, has attempted suicide, is an abusive parent, etc.

An example of one of the questions on the ACE study would be, “place a 1 in this box if you lived in a household where domestic violence was present.” In the very first study 75% of the people that completed the questionnaire were white middle to upper class citizens, whose average age was 57.

When the numbers came back from the people who completed the survey, most had higher ACE scores than expected. Felitti and Anda decided to take their study to lower class families to see if the information they were gathering was indeed accurate.

What they discovered was that when they started comparing the scores of people who have no history of ACEs, people with scores of 4 or more ACEs were twice as likely to smoke, seven times more likely to be alcoholics, seven times more likely to engage in sexual activity before the age of 15, twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer, have heart or liver disease. ACEs scores of 6 or more meant that you were 30 times more likely to have attempted suicide more than once.

I like to talk about the ACEs for 2 very specific reasons:

1. I know there are parents who are unaware of what it is and the impact trauma has on their children over long periods of time.

2. I have recorded scores of 7 or higher when I participated in ACE questionnaires, meaning I should fall into one or more of the following categories Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, Suicide attempts, Liver disease, Depression, Mental Disorder.

I am thankful to say that I am not in any of those categories and that is due in part to the fact that I attended the conference a few years ago and became mindful of the fact that there is a very real correlation between how you grew up, and what you experience present day. I invite you to do your independent research on the topic ACEs, it is something we all need to be proactive in dealing with.

Peace and Love,

Tyrone Dixon works as a Certified Professional Coach in the Syracuse Community through his business ArozeThrough Concrete Coaching. He was born and raised on the South and West Sides of Syracuse. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from SUNY Buffalo. It is his pleasure to be a “writing contributor” for CNY Latino, and write about the topic of Emotional Intelligence (EI). He loves the City of Syracuse and believes that exposure to Emotional Intelligence can help change the direction of the individuals living in some of our “high poverty” areas. Can you imagine how much better our city would be if people were taught how to manage their feelings without hurting someone? Or if we could teach people to be proactive in identifying situations they are not comfortable in?.