Do you know your ACE score? Dr. Wanda Filer the board chair of the American
Academy of Family Physicians says you should. “The term ACE is new to many people. Adverse Childhood Experiences comes from a
study that was done back in the mid 1990s where about 17,000 individuals were asked
a whole bunch of questions about their childhood and they were self-reporting. And this was a group of people half men, half
women, and they were asked things like ‘were you treated violently as a child? were you
physically assaulted? were you sexually assaulted? was there drug abuse in your home? did you
have enough food in your home?’ A lot of these adverse things that can be
formative in childhood years and they gave a point to every one that answered ‘yes’ and
then that total is what we call your ACE score or your adverse childhood experiences score. Almost two thirds of participants in the ACE
study reported at least one ACE. More than one in five reported three or more
ACES. The higher the ACE score, the higher the risk
of health problems. “They followed these people over twenty years
and what we found is that for instance people who have an ACE score of 6 or higher they’re
far more likely to die 20 years early. And it probably is the defining issue for
much of our health in this nation but we don’t even know about it. Dr. Lori Frasier, the director of the Center
for the Protection of Children at Penn State Health, says a high ACE score is not a guarantee
for poor health. “Not everybody with ACEs does end up with
problems. There’s a certain amount of what we can resiliency. You hear about people who have had very difficult
early lives and do great. It’s not a predictor that you’re going to
have a bad outcome. It’s only a predictor that you have risk factors.” “I think sometimes it takes one person. It takes one person who believes in that child,
trusts that child, and says ‘I’m there for you through thick or thin.” Kristy Szobocsan has an ACE score of 6 but
because of the positive support she’s had in life she’s healthy and the principal at
Warwick High School where she’s able to mentor young adults who also have high ACE scores. “It only takes one positive adult and that’s
kind of my motto here and I think my teachers would tell you that the saying on the wall
is ‘every child has a story yet to be told.’ Everyone has a story and we just see sometimes
a kid for what they look at and what they act like in our classroom or in the hallway
and we don’t ever know what’s happening behind those eyes.”

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Dennis Veasley

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