Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Adverse Childhood Experiences ACE study

This study is one that needs to be told to every corner of the world.  It was done by the CDC and Kaiser Permanente.

The study is often called the ACE study which stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences.  It was one of the largest studies into the impact of childhood abuse on health later on in life.

Some facts about how the study was done according to the website.
  1. Two waves of data collection between 1995 and 1997 with over 17,000 people.
  2. Study comprised of 54% women, 46% male.
  3. Ethnicity and race was 74.8 white, followed by 11.2% Hispanic and Latino with other groups making up the difference.
  4. Age ranges were more heavily sampled on 60 and over at 46.4%

Major Findings According To The ACE study

Almost two-thirds of the participants had at least one Adverse Childhood Experience.  More than 1 in 5 reported three or more Adverse Childhood Experiences.

The greater the number of experiences you have as a child that are adverse, the greater your risk for having chronic health conditions as you get older.  This study shows that in no uncertain terms.

The following website, does a good job of explaining this in more detail.

As the number of Adverse Childhood Experiences increases, so does the risk for the following:
  • Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Depression
  • Fetal death
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Illicit drug use
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Poor work performance
  • Financial stress
  • Risk for intimate partner violence
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Smoking
  • Suicide attempts
  • Unintended pregnancies
  • Early initiation of smoking
  • Early initiation of sexual activity
  • Adolescent pregnancy
  • Risk for sexual violence
  • Poor academic achievement

 Adverse Childhood Experiences Definitions

  1. Abuse
    • Emotional abuse
    • Physical Abuse
    • Sexual Abuse
  2. Household Challenges
    • Mother treated violently
    • Household substance abuse
    • Mental illness in household
    • Parental separation or divorce
    • Criminal household member
  3. Neglect
    • Emotional neglect
    • physical neglect

How To Calculate Your Ace Score

Answer the following questions to calculate your score.
(prior to your 18th birthday)

  1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very 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?
    ___If Yes, enter 1
  2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?
    ___If Yes, enter 1
  3. Did an 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 Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?
    ___If Yes, enter 1
  4. Did you often or very often feel that … No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?
    ___If Yes, enter 1
  5. Did you often or very often feel that … You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?
    ___If Yes, enter 1
  6. Were your parents ever separated or divorced?
    ___If Yes, enter 1
  7. Was your mother or stepmother:
    Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very 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 knife?
    ___If Yes, enter 1
  8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?
    ___If Yes, enter 1
  9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?
    ___If Yes, enter 1
  10. Did a household member go to prison?
    ___If Yes, enter 1

Understanding The Score

Add up all your "YES" answers and that is your ACE score.

The higher the ACE score, the greater health risk you have.  It becomes an index where your risk for the health factors listed previously become more a reality.

I'm a firm believer in that if you have a health condition, as long as it is not past the point of no return, I think a person can turn it around.  Think of a train going off a cliff that once it gets to the end of the track, there is no stopping it.  However, if we're not at that point, we still have a chance to slow the train down.  I understand that I am often in the minority on this and many may think I just don't understand.  I use my own life's experiences and conditions as proof of this conclusion.

So, I don't accept that any physical health condition cannot be stopped or reversed.  This is my opinion and I cannot base it upon fact.  So, please don't take this as medical advice because it is not intended to be that.  Just don't limit yourself to the current medical wisdom out there.  I believe there is far more within us that can turn things around.

In my own life, health problems that I thought I would have to live with are no longer a major concern for me.  I don't take medication.  Yes, I still have things that crop up on me physically and mentally, but I've learned the tools that pull me back out of hell.   There have been some major physical things that I thought were not something I could change and yet, I've discovered that I can really impact them and sometimes pretty quickly.   

Why Does All This Matter

When you have been through childhood abuse, if you don't deal with it - it will deal with you.  You may think you're getting away with it and it doesn't affect you, but sooner or later it will catch up.  It will bring you front and center with it.  You may still choose to deny it at that point, but if you do, things will only get worse and I think you reach the point of no return.

From what I have experienced in my own life and through the healing work that I've learned, there is a way to reclaim your physical body and mind and heal from these adverse childhood experiences. Unfortunately, we often just give lip service to this concept while ignoring the true impacts and how we can have great influence over what happens as a result.

At one time, I thought that physical ailments on the body and mind were life sentences.  I shouldn't be standing here today writing what I am because everyone at one point thought my future was hopeless.  I've battled the depression, anxiety, suicide,  migraine headaches, ulcers, allergies, skin issues, high pulse rate and many other physical ailments.  At one time, I thought that was just the way things are.

I won't tell you today that my life is perfect and free from all of these physical issues, but I now have more tools in my toolbox to help me deal with things, without turning to medical procedures, surgeries and medications.  At one time, I needed some of those things, but it was because I didn't have the tools I now have.

It takes work and courage...

It takes a lot of work and courage to get to this point.  It is not easy and I will never mislead anyone into thinking it is just a matter of changing one's thoughts or living by some platitude or meme.  In order to begin healing, you have to go into those deep dark horror moments of life and learn how to take the power back from them.

This is not just a mental exercise, although the mind and your thoughts play a major role.  This is an exercise where with time, you learn how to feel and connect to your body through the felt sense as it connects with your mind.  When you understand that in order to heal your mind, you must feel in your body that which is hard to feel and is often blinded by fear.

Feeling in the body....

Feeling in the body is the most advanced way I have found to heal the adverse childhood experiences I have been through.  My ACE score is very high.  I've been through a lot and unless I would not have started to use Unified Therapy and the concepts behind it, I would have never made it this far.  My life was crashing when I first started to understand and explore how to heal my body and mind.

Therapy and counseling helped me tremendously, but in the end, I had neglected the body part of the mind body connection.  It is in the body part of my healing where I started to physically empower my life once again and heal in ways that I did not think were possible.  It was not some pie-in-the-sky concept, but one that has been proven many times over on many people. It does work!  You can heal!

Fear has been my constant enemy...

Fear has been my constant enemy that I have loathed and despised.  It has held me back by fooling me into thinking that I can't heal and that none of my progress is real.  Fear has kept me hunkering down in the corner hiding in the shadows as if that was the sum total of my life.  Fear has kept me withering in life as if I had no power or worth or value.

We all have to find our way through healing and the experiences we have been through.  However, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that if the body is not engaged in healing, the mind will only take you so far.  Memes, platitudes, and simple healing statements may have their place, but often they get in the way of the real - down-to-earth work that we need to do.

When life takes you far enough down the trail of no return, it either gets your attention or if you continue to ignore it, you will suffer greatly.  We do have the power to change our life from the inside out, but only if we allow ourselves to go through the fear and find it.  Often that requires a person who truly understands the effect of trauma on the body and there are far too few that do.

For a long time, I have known about the ACE study because of Unified Therapy by Dr. Paul Canali.  He uses this with his patients and helps them realize the cause-effect between trauma and their current health conditions.  It is a great tool to begin helping you see the relationship of what trauma does to your current health and well-being.

Further Information

Here is a video done of an interview of some topics, but one of those is the ACE Study.  It is with Jim Fazio and Dr. Paul Canali.  Jim is a practitioner that has learned Unified Therapy and is having wonderful success with it on his own clients. 

Final Thoughts

Where ever you are today in your life, go further - discover more and realize that there is much more potential in healing than may seem possible, feasible or even real.

I really admire Dr. Paul Canali because he has helped me understand that the body connection is where the true healing is at and without it, I would not have made it as far as I did.  He doesn't just understand the concepts of healing trauma as a pioneer in this field.  He knows how to implement them and see results from one patient to another.

Years ago, they told me I would most likely never function 100% again.  I proved the medical world wrong.  At one point they were bringing me back to life and it was up to me from that point on to go beyond what I thought I knew so that I could truly heal.

If you want to know more about my own story, check out my book, "Hope And Possibility Through Trauma"

Blog Post And Images (c) 2017 by Don Shetterly
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