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ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences)

ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences)

Written by Kelsie Goller, MA, LPC-S, RPT

Clinical Director, KPS

The Adverse Childhood Experiences quiz is simply ten questions that ask about a person’s experience of childhood abuse, childhood neglect, or other experiences of household dysfunction during childhood. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Kaiser Permanente collaborated to conduct one of the largest studies of the long-term effects of childhood trauma. ACEs are widespread, with the CDC reporting that at least one in seven children have experienced child abuse or neglect in the past year, while at least one in six adults surveyed across 25 states reported that they had experienced 4 or more ACEs (CDC, 2021). About 61% of adults self-reported that they had experienced at least one of the adverse childhood experiences on the survey (CDC, 2021).

These adverse childhood experiences have a long-lasting impact on individuals and their communities; the CDC- Kaiser Permanente study has demonstrated a strong association between ACE scores and many future risk behaviors, physical problems, and mental health problems. Also, the higher an individual’s ACE score is, the greater likelihood that they will face these problems in the future. For example, ACE scores are associated with future drug use, alcoholism, work absenteeism, suicide, depression, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and more (Starecheski, 2015). Nadine Burke Harris (former Surgeon General of California) explains the link between ACE scores and future physical health problems in this excellent TEDMED Talk.

The ACE quiz asks if you have experienced (before the age of 18): physical, sexual, or emotional abuse; physical or emotional neglect; a family member with substance abuse, mental illness, or incarceration; divorce of parents; and/or a mother who was the victim of violence. You can take the ACE quiz for yourself or for your child here. If you recognize your own experience in one or more of these question items, it may be beneficial to reach out to a professional counselor in order to process the impact of your early childhood experiences on your current mental and physical health. A strengths-focused counselor can also help you identify and honor your protective factors and areas of resilience, such as important relationships, activities, personal characteristics, and passions that helped you to get through the harmful experiences of your early life.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021). Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

Starecheski, Laura. (2015, Mar. 02). Take The ACE Quiz — And Learn What It Does And

Doesn't Mean. NPR. Retrieved from


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