By: Carol Briggs, Clinical Intern

When someone mentions ACE’s, you might think of poker. In the world of wellness, ACE’s stands for adverse childhood experiences. Studies found that ACE’s influence physical and mental health in adulthood. And the more ACE’s a person has, the greater the impact. Experiencing traumatic events as a child can lead to chronic health concerns as an adult as well as social and emotional problems. A 1998 study showed the correlation between ACE’s and disease in adulthood. At least 5 of the 10 leading causes of death are associated with adverse childhood experiences. The study also pointed to a connection between ACE’s and substance misuse, educational and economic opportunity, and unemployment.  You can find more information and download the study here: ACE’s Study.

Specific ACE’s that influence wellness in adulthood include the following prior to age 18:

  • Physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse by a parent or other adult.
  • Witnessing physical violence toward a mother or stepmother.
  • Feeling unloved and unsupported by family.
  • Food insecurity, neglect of basic needs, or parents who were too high or drunk to care for you or take you to the doctor if needed.
  • Your parents separated or divorced.
  • Someone in your household misused substances, experienced depression, other mental health issues, or attempted suicide.
  • Someone in your household went to prison.

To find your ACE’s score go here: ACE’s Quiz

Keep in mind that other types of trauma not measured in the study that can also impact health in adulthood like, racism, seeing a violence toward a sibling, community violence, losing a caregiver, homelessness, surviving and recovering from a severe accident, or witnessing a father being abused by a mother. Knowing how ACE’s influence wellness has led to even greater efforts to prevent these experiences and the impact of trauma on development.

Maybe you’ve got a lot of ACE’s and feel like you’re playing a losing hand. Those things that happened to you are not your fault. You deserve support, love, health, and happiness no matter what your childhood looked like. If you think that childhood experiences may be impacting you as an adult, counseling can help. Reach out for a free 15-minute video or phone consultation. 847.854.4333 or contact