Writing Practice Prescription

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What Is Your ACE Score?

January 28th, 2008 · 1 Comment

Ellen Taliaferro, MD

Can the woes and traumas of your yesterdays take a toll on your state of health today? Indeed they can and do. At least that’s what our grandmothers always seemed to know.

Now, thanks in large part to the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, medical research validates this concept. Dr. Vincent Felitti, Founder of the Department of Preventive Medicine in Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, and his colleagues at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have identified ten adverse childhood experiences that correlate with adult health status half a century later.

What are adverse childhood experiences? To date ten have been identified in children younger than 18 who grow up in a household with:

  • Recurrent physical abuse
  • Recurrent emotional abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • An alcohol or drug abuser
  • An incarcerated household member
  • Someone who is chronically depressed, suicidal, institutionalized or mentally ill
  • Mother being treated violently
  • One or no parents
  • Emotional or physical neglect

Any one of the above ten items receives a score of one, no matter how many times it occurred. For instance, if you were sexually abused once or many times as a child, your ACE score is one and only one. The higher your ACE score, the more likely you will be to experience a wide range of health and social problems in your adult life.

Last summer, Dr. Felitti spoke in San Mateo, CA, and presented an overview of the findings from the ACE Study. He noted that the official questionnaire for determining an ACE score was several pages long and needed to be professionally evaluated. However, recently the ACE Study Group developed a “self-test” version of the questionnaire.

Of note, Dr. Felitti and his team use writing as part of their practice by asking their patients to write out their autobiography in five-year segments.

This survey has only ten questions and can be explored and taken by clicking the link below.

Click here to download a copy of the ACE survey

Tags: healing · writing

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