What is trauma and how does it connect to ACE’s and toxic stress?

While trauma has many definitions, typically in psychology it refers to an experience of serious adversity or terror- or the emotional or psychological response to that experience.

There is growing understanding that problematic behaviors may need to be treated as a result of the ACE’s or other traumatic experiences someone has had, as opposed to addressing them as simply willful and/or punishable actions.

What is ACE’s ( Adverse Childhood Experiences)?

The term “ACE’s” is an acronym for Adverse Childhood Experiences.

It originated in a groundbreaking study conducted in 1995 by the CDC and the Kaiser Permanente health care organization in California.  The study developed a questionnaire that revealed several kinds of abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction.

The key findings are as follows:

Ace’s are quite common even among the middle-class population; more than two-thirds of the population report experiencing one ACE, and nearly a quarter have experienced 3 or more.

There is a powerful, persistent correlation between more ACE’s experienced and the greater chance of poor outcomes later in life, including dramatically increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, substance abuse, smoking, poor academic achievement, time out of work and early death.

A child’s exposure to trauma can result in toxic stress, which can damage a developing brain and affect the child’s overall health.  As the increased number of ACE’s are experienced in childhood, so does the likelihood that he/she will experience a number of health and developmental issues, including:

  • Depression.
  • Illicit drug use, alcohol abuse and tobacco use.
  • Reduced immune response to fight infection.
  • Difficulty making friends and maintaining relationships.
  • Increased problems with learning and memory.
  • Reduced ability to respond, learn and figure things out.
  • Unintended pregnancies.
  • Sexually transmitted disease. (STD’s)

Among youth that have endured multiple ACE’s with household dysfunction here are the common statistics:

78% live in single-parent homes

68% have a behavioral challenge (i.e., ADHD, depression, etc.)

58% live in households with a family income below $30,000.00

22% have been exposed to abuse/ domestic violence

17% have an incarcerated parent

For those interested google search “ACE’s too High” for the ACE quiz.

There is also a Resilience quiz that can be found online or made available to those locally at my office in Tempe, Arizona.

Building Resilience is Key

Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficulties, which can reduce the effects of ACE’s.  Children can build resilience in a number of ways including:

Having nurturing relationships with adults who listen and respond patiently and make sure that a child’s physical and emotional needs are met.

Social connections with family, friends and/or mentors who support, help, and listen.

Access to nutritional food, appropriate clothing, health care, education, and safe housing.

Adults who help the child build social and emotional skills learn how  to interact in a healthy way with others, ( let us recall that many adults and seniors were  harmed by ACE’s also).

I am Divina Flamingarrow. I am so grateful that you, dear reader, have read thus far, because I and others had an ACE score of 7 out of 10, or greater.  As I become 65 this year, I am so glad to be a volunteer with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Arizona!

There are many ways I offer service here at Light Blessing Services, including:

Forgiveness practice, gratitude practice, breathing exercises combined with meditative states, chanting positive message mantras, Tao Calligraphy tracing and chanting services, Guan Yin 1000 Hands and 1000 Eyes Crown Chakra Blessing – in person only, also Guan Yin 1000 Hands and 1000 Eyes Blessings either in person or remotely, Tao Hands Blessings, 5 element Blessings, Movement and stillness sessions, teaching about our True nature and follow nature’s way living, and a 3 month program to reverse diabetes with whole foods, lifestyle and other Tao Calligraphy services.

Master Zhi Gang Sha, my Spiritual Teacher says,” The Big way is extremely simple”. As we enter into simplicity, good service and follow nature’s way living we are creating New Mother Earth together in Love, Peace and Harmony!!

Love and Light