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What’s Your ACE Score?

Provided by Aces Too High News

The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study came up with an ACE score to explain a person’s risk for chronic disease. Think of it as a cholesterol score for childhood toxic stress.

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.

Calculate your ACE score


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.

Prior to your 18th birthday:

  1. 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 __

  2. 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 __

  3. 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 __

  4. 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 __

  5. 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 __

  6. Were your parents ever separated or divorced?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __

  7. 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 __

  8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __

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

  10. Did a household member go to prison?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __


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

What does your ACE score mean?


The CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study) uncovered a stunning link between childhood trauma and the chronic diseases people develop as adults, as well as social and emotional problems. This includes heart disease, lung cancer, diabetes and many autoimmune diseases, as well as depression, violence, being a victim of violence, and suicide.

The first research results were published in 1998, followed by more than 70 other publications through 2015. They showed that:

  • childhood trauma was very common, even in employed white middle-class, college-educated people with great health insurance;

  • there was a direct link between childhood trauma and adult onset of chronic disease, as well as depression, suicide, being violent and a victim of violence;

  • more types of trauma increased the risk of health, social and emotional problems.

  • people usually experience more than one type of trauma – rarely is it only sex abuse or only verbal abuse.


As your ACE score increases, so does the risk of disease, social and emotional problems. With an ACE score of 4 or more, things start getting serious. The likelihood of chronic pulmonary lung disease increases 390 percent; hepatitis, 240 percent; depression 460 percent; suicide, 1,220 percent.

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If you live in Indiana and need help finding a behavioral health provider, visit Find Help or call (800) 284-8439.

 

 

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