As much as our culture tells survivors to move forward and to not look back at their past, the human body tells a much different story. The body remembers, whether we want it to or not. Childhood trauma is a significant testament to that, and there are 40 years of intensive studies into its long term impact. Childhood trauma has the ability to create more long term physical and mental health problems than going into combat war. The reasoning behind this is because a child’s brain is not fully developed, and thus it is more susceptible to trauma. This is where the ACE Study comes in.

The ACE or Adverse Childhood Experiences Study is becoming more increasingly spoken about in the mental health and medical field. However to place things in their proper perspective, Marcia Staton of Phoenix Children’s Hospital stated, “The ACE study is probably the most important study that you have never heard of.” It’s a study that began in the 1980’s interestingly enough in an obesity clinic in San Diego, CA. Dr. Vincent Felitti, led the obesity clinic at Kaiser Permanente. Dr. Felitti began probing more questions after finding that 50% of his patients dropped out of his program. He began to notice a trend in his obese patients, which was that many reported a childhood history of abuse. His questions and continued concerns turned into a 25 year study which the CDC eventually became apart of. To what eventually ended up into a 10 question screen, addressing various forms of childhood traumatic events. The higher one’s score on the screen, the more likely the person will develop chronic and long term health conditions. (Jane Ellen Steven’s, in “The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study-The largest most important public health study that you never heard of -began in an obesity clinic).”

The study has continued long after the 1980’s. And research is still conducted today in various areas around the country. You can easily follow its continued progress on (acestoohigh). I actually stumbled across the ACE study around 6 years ago. I was shocked at the wealth and depth of information and it’s concerning statistics. Which is why I have been using the screen as apart of my practice for over 3 years with clients. It’s very important for people to have access to this information to attempt to prevent the concerning statistics. It’s difficult to be proactive if you are unaware that the issue exists.

The ACE questionnaire is developed based upon the 10 following factors, “Psychological Abuse, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Emotional Neglect, Loss of a Parent (for any reason), Mother Treated Violently, Substance Abuse, Mental Illness, and Criminal Behavior in the Household,” Anyone can easily calculate their own ACE score with the “The ACE Score Calculator,” which can be found on the webpage, which is provided by Sparrow Consulting. The test is 10 questions long, and the score can range from (0-10) depending upon your responses to the questions. Each question covers the 10 factors that the study found most prevalent. “The study found the higher the ACE Score, the greater the risk of experiencing poor physical and mental health, and negative social consequences later in life,”The ACE Score-The Adverse Childhood experience Study at

I highly recommend that everyone takes the ACE study, and follow up on the screens results. The more knowledge that you have, the more power you have over your health. Also there is the “resiliency factor,” that can be considered and built upon. And thus a high ACE score is by no means a hopeless situation. It’s actually quite hopeful. This is a very broad introduction to the ACE study and some of its content.


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Published by Angie Simonton, LCSW

Welcome! My name is Angie Simonton and I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in St. Tammany Parish. My office is located in Covington, LA next to Lakeview Hospital in the Fairway Complex Buildings. I am a Private Practice therapist with a specialization in anxiety and mood disorders. After many years of working in various settings “in the field,” I decided it was time to go back to my calling ... in mental health. I am thankful for my experiences at other agencies where I was able to work with children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly. I have been able to work in various parishes across our state; including Orleans, Jefferson, St Tammany, Iberia, Lafayette, Washington, Tangi, and more. It has given me a great appreciation for various cultures, backgrounds, ethnicities, socioeconomic status, and religious beliefs. I use a strengths based, holistic approach, that looks at the big and small picture. Some call this Psychodynamic Treatment... I call it individualized treatment. It’s making sure that your needs are met in the best way possible.. to achieve symptom relief and long term recovery.

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