Childhood Development: ACEs

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) play a huge role in adult health of all kinds. Starting over two decades ago, with the largest study of its kind at the time, ACEs were identified as having an impact of the trajectory of different aspects of adult health, such as mental health, heart health, gut health, and behavioural health. The idea is that the more ACEs an individual has the more likely that the trauma the ACEs caused the will result in ill-effect to their development through changes to the way their brain develops. As well as changes to the way their body responds to, and processes, stress.

There are many resources to discover regarding ACEs and their effetcs, but the blog Aces too High is an excellent resource. You can even take the ACEs test yourself to see what you score. There are ten questions, each one asking about a potential traumatic experience you may have had as a child. But please beware, it can be triggering, it was for me (I scored eight out of ten).

The video below, featuring Dr Nadine Burke Harris, discusses the lasting effects of childhood trauma and questions why more isn’t being done to alleviate it.

Science journalist Donna Jackson Nakazawa‘s book Childhood Disrupted: How You Biography Becomes Your Biology, is an extraordinary read on how your experiences growing up effect the biology of your body. She draws on research into ACEs, trauma, and adulthood illnesses, both physical and mental, to find the connections between them. Nakazawa also uses the stories of people who have suffered childhood trauma and live live with adult illness.

She particularly focusses on the effects of ongoing trauma in childhood, like the effects of an unpredictable toxic parent. It’s interesting to explore the different levels of trauma and how they have effected the individuals in adult life. There’s also a surprising amount of evidence linking childhood stress to autoimmune and inflammatory diseases in adult life.

Below is a video of Nakazawa discussing her area of research and what she found in the writing of Childhood Disrupted.

Gabor Maté is a medical doctor who specialises in the field of addiction (he also equally specialises in the field of ADHD). Over two decades of working on the front line with those who suffer from the most severe forms of drug addiction, as well as his deep sense of empathy and understanding, led him to a bio-psycho-social approach to the social phenomenon of drug addiction. He uses a mix of scientific and social research mixed with deeply compassionate understanding of human experience to explain what he believes are the main causes of drug addiction – mainly pointing to issues during childhood development. He makes robust points that, for me, really hit home in powerful, sometimes painful, ways.

Below is a video of Maté discussing the ideas in his work regarding addiction.

Just another aging, traumatised millennial. Exploring trauma, mental health, addiction and "recovery" through the voice of lived experience.

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