The ACEs survey looks at ten different types of common childhood traumas. Five are personal and five are based on other household members. There are many other factors that are not considered, such as racism, community violence, poverty, social isolation, lack of support services, etc. It also does not consider the differences in individuals’ reactions to adverse childhood experiences.
You can take steps now to help your body heal, help your brain heal, and improve some of your long-term health outcomes. If you are willing to work hard on it, you can develop your resilience and change your life. The American Psychological Association offers four key areas to focus on as you build up your resilience:
Build your connections
- Prioritize relationships
- Join a group
- Take care of your body
- Practice mindfulness
- Avoid negative outlets
- Help others
- Be proactive
- Move toward your goals
- Look for opportunities for self-discovery
Embrace healthy thoughts
- Keep things in perspective
- Accept change
- Maintain a hopeful outlook
- Learn from your past
Positive Childhood Experiences Assessment
You cannot undo or change your ACEs score. BUT you can improve your long-term health and wellness destiny by gaining resilience with Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs).
Positive Childhood Experiences questions:
Before your 18th birthday, how often did you:
- Feel able to talk to their family about feelings
- Feel their family stood by them during difficult times
- Enjoy participating in community traditions
- Feel a sense of belonging in high school
- Feel supported by friends
- Have at least two non-parent adults who took a genuine interest in them
- Feel safe and protected by an adult in their home
Research shows that the single most important thing you can do to improve your path is to surround yourself with people who will consistently support you, who will listen to you, and who will validate your feelings. Another critical step is to connect with a trained counselor. This could be a school counselor, a licensed therapist, or a mental health clinician. You did catch a lucky break because there many excellent resources available to you in our community.
Do you have more questions or just want to read more about your score and what it means? Numberstory.org is a fantastic source of easy-to-understand information by one of the country’s leading experts in ACEs, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris. We definitely encourage you to learn more and control your destiny!
So why do we care about PACEs?
We want to help everyone take control of their destiny to live healthy and satisfying lives. To do that we need individuals, organizations, communities, and systems to understand the impact they have on kids’ life paths. So we need to talk about PACEs (both positive and adverse childhood experiences) and how they intertwine throughout all of our lives.
At the individual level, learning about ACEs helps us each understand why we behave the way we do, and that our coping behavior is normal—a normal response to abnormal circumstances. Learning about PCEs provides direction to heal. The key concept about PACEs is that learning about both, together, can help improve our health and well-being. It gives us hope.
At the organizational level, staff and leaders at our local schools, churches, athletics, and social groups can use what they know about PACEs to create positive environments and programs that help offset prior adverse experiences and help their members find a healthy life path.
At the community level, educating the public about PACEs can provide hope and inspire people to think of new ways to support families, organizations, and communities. Understanding how positive and adverse experiences impact our life path offers an opportunity for engagement with all sectors. Communities can use this new lens to create mindful, healing-centered, research-informed approaches to prevent adversity and encourage connection and healing.
At the system level, policymakers and leaders can use research about PACEs to find common ground across fields and to support policies that promote the understanding of PACEs and how adversity and positive experiences work together.