Take The ACES Quiz
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the Aces Quiz
The Adverse Childhood Experiences, or “ACEs,” quiz asks a series of 10 questions (see below) about common traumatic experiences that occur in early life. Since higher numbers of ACEs often correlate to challenges later in life, including higher risk of certain health problems, the quiz is intended as an indicator of how likely a person might be to face these challenges.
THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE TAKING THE QUIZ
The quiz is a helpful tool for raising awareness about the potential impact of ACEs. But it’s important to remember all the things this quiz doesn’t take into account. First, there are many experiences that could be traumatic for children that the quiz doesn’t ask about—community violence, racism, other forms of discrimination, natural disasters, housing insecurity. That means answering all the questions on the ACE quiz will not give a full picture of the adversity a child has faced – and thus would not be a true indicator of possible risk—nor a full picture of the possible solutions communities should consider.
Second, everyone is different, and adverse experiences in childhood affect each child differently. Just because a person has experienced several ACEs does not mean that later social, emotional, or health problems are inevitable. Some children develop resilience – the ability to overcome serious hardship – while others do not. Genetic factors also play a role, in that some children are predisposed to be more sensitive to adversity than others. And the most common factor among children who show resilience is at least one stable and responsive relationship with a supportive adult.
What isn’t accounted for:
- Stressors outside the household (e.g., violence, poverty, racism, other forms of discrimination, isolation, chaotic environment, lack of services)
- Protective factors (e.g., supportive relationships, community services, skill-building opportunities)
- Individual differences (i.e., not all children who experience multiple ACEs will have poor outcomes and not all children who experience no ACEs will avoid poor outcomes—a high ACEs score is simply an indicator of greater risk)
The ACEs quiz gives no insight into whether an individual child might be more or less sensitive to adversity and asks no questions about whether there may have been any protective relationships in place to help buffer the child from stress. So the ACEs quiz can only give insight into who might be at risk—not who is at risk—for certain later-life challenges. In this series of three short videos, you can learn more about what resilience is, the science behind it, and how it’s built.
Take The Quiz
For each “yes” answer, add 1. The total number at the end is your cumulative number of ACEs.
Before your 18th birthday:
#1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… a) Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or b) Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?
#2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… a) Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or b) Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?
#3. Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever… a) Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or b) Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?
#4. Did you often or very often feel that … a) No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or b) Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?
#5. Did you often or very often feel that … a) You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or b) Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?
#6. Were your parents ever separated or divorced?
#7. Was your mother or stepmother: a) Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped or had something thrown at her? or b) Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or c) Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?
#8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who 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?
Your ACES Score
Your ACES Score
What Does Your Score Mean?
The quiz score is based on ten types of childhood trauma measured in the ACE Study.
Five are personal — physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect.
Five are related to other family members: a parent who’s an alcoholic, a mother who’s a victim of domestic violence, a family member in jail, a family member diagnosed with a mental illness, and the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death or abandonment.
You get one point for each type of trauma. The higher your ACE score, the higher your risk of health and social problems.
As your ACE score increases, so does the risk of disease, social and emotional problems.
With an ACE score of 4 or more, things start getting serious. The likelihood of chronic pulmonary lung disease increases 390 percent; hepatitis, 240 percent; depression 460 percent; suicide, 1,220 percent.
The most important thing to remember is that the ACE score is meant as a guideline: If you experienced other types of toxic stress over months or years, then those would likely increase your risk of health consequences.
Fortunately, our brains and lives are somewhat plastic, which means our mental and physical health can improve. The appropriate integration of resilience factors born out of ACE concepts — such as asking for help, developing trusting relationships, forming a positive attitude, listening to feelings — can help people improve their lives.
References & Sources
- CDC & Kaiser Study: Relationship of Childhood Abuse and Household Dysfunction to Many of the Leading Causes of Death in Adults-The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study (1998); Vincent J. Felitti, MD, FACP, Robert F. Anda, MD, MS, Dale Nordenberg, MD, David F. Williamson, MS, PhD, Alison M. Spitz, MS, MPH, Valerie Edwards, BA, Mary P. Koss, PhD, James S. Marks, MD, MPH CLICK HERE
- Child Trends Research Brief: Adverse Childhood Experiences: National and State-Level Prevalence (July 2014); Vanessa Sacks, M.P.P., David Murphey, Ph.D., and Kristin Moore, Ph.D. CLICK HERE
- Minnesota Department of Health. Adverse Childhood Experiences in Minnesota (Pub Feb, 2013) 2011 Minnesota Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. CLICK HERE
- Essentials for Childhood; CDC, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention; Steps to Create Safe, Stable, Nurturing Relationships and Environments. (Pub August 2014) CLICK HERE
- Harvard Center on the Developing Child CLICK HERE
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Take The ACES Quiz