Child in Trauma – understanding ACEs

Not every child with sensory disregulation will have experienced trauma, yet every child who has adverse experiences will most likely have a sensory issue. Be that sound sensitivity, lack of social engagement or a need to be held – to feel their edges – but to name a few.

Adverse Childhood Experiences

So what type of trauma might a child have experienced that would have created this somatic response? In the 1980s Vincent Fellitti (head of Kaiser Permanente’s Department of Preventive Medicine) and Robert Anda from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researched the correlation between those that had experienced adverse childhoods and those which later manifested into adult mental health difficulties such as depression and anxiety; physical ailments and anti-social behaviour.

They discovered that there were a surprising number of people that had experienced one of more from the list. They also noticed that because ACEs occur in clusters, many subsequent studies have examined the cumulative effects of ACEs rather than the individual effects of each.

What are the ACEs?

The type of experiences are nothing new, but have been cleverly grouped together through this study to give us an understanding that given someone has experienced even one or two from the list, may have resulted in issues later in life effecting their health and emotional wellbeing. So for those who have had three or more ACEs most definitely would have a part to play in their mental, physical, emotional and social development.


Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Questionnaire

While you were growing up, during your first 18 years of life:

1. Did a parent or other adult in the household 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?
  • Or did other children, including brothers and sisters, OFTEN hit you, threaten you, pick on you or insult you?

2. Did a parent or other adult in the household OFTEN:

  • Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you (other than a spanking)?
  • Or ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?

3. Did and 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 try to actually have oral, anal, or vaginal sex with you?

4. Did you OFTEN feel:

  • That no-one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special?
  • Or that your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?
  • Or lonely, rejected or that nobody liked you?

5. Did you OFTEN feel that:

  • You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no-one to protect you?
  • Or that your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?
  • Or was there a period of two years or more where your family was very poor or unable to afford the necessities like food and clothes?

6. Was a biological parent EVER lost to you through divorce, abandonment or any other reason?

7. Was your parent or carer OFTEN:

  • Pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at him/her?
  • Or SOMETIMES or 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 a knife?
  • Or did you live for 2 years or more in a neighbourhood that was dangerous or where you saw people being assaulted?

8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic or used street drugs?

9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill or did a household member attempt suicide?

10. Did a household member go to prison?

These are hard hitting questions, no doubt, but this is a reality for more people than should be ever allowed. My parents are amazing and loving but growing up, I can say I did experience 2 of these 10 ACEs due to their own experiences of childhood. Through my training as therapist, I have worked through those feelings and as a family, we are better for it and so the generational pattern ends there.

So What to Do?

The brain and the body has an amazing capability to protect itself and with the help and understanding through new research, we are getting a clearer picture how these traumas can affect our development and how to repair that damage. This can be done through sensory integration, re-wiring the brain through neuroplasticity and even energy healing. The aim of this website, is to share what I have discovered in my journey of self-development and professional development because they are closely linked. Everyone has the tools with themselves to heal and it about discovering which one works best for you and the people you love.

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