Impact of Positive and Adverse Childhood Experiences

Learn your score, control your destiny

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition LogoResearch shows that our childhood experiences have a strong impact on our health and wellness as adults, especially Adverse Childhood Experiences, known as ACEs.

It is important to understand that ACEs are not our fault, and we do not have control over what happened. ACEs can be a single event, or they can be repeated events or situations. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and leading development researchers have established a simple ACEs assessment to help us understand our level of risk. 

ACEs Assessment

The ACEs assessment is a useful tool to show you the impact your childhood experiences can have on your health as an adult. Your ACEs score can never go down, but your future is not set in stone. There are many things you can do to take control of your destiny once you learn your score. 

The ACEs assessment looks at ten different types of common childhood traumas. Five are personal, and five are based on other household members. There are many factors that are not considered, such as racism, community violence, poverty, social isolation, lack of support services, etc. It also does not consider the differences in individuals’ reactions to adverse childhood experiences.

Download the assessment to learn your score.

If, at any point, you find yourself overwhelmed and needing assistance, please reach out to Crisis at (262) 657-7188. A trained professional will answer your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

ACEs Resources

You can take steps now to help your body and brain heal and improve some of your long-term health outcomes. If you are willing to work on it, you can develop your resilience and change your life. The American Society for the Positive Care of Children offers four key areas to focus on as you build up your resilience:

  • Foster Wellness 
    • Take care of your body 
    • Practice mindfulness 
    • Avoid negative outlets 
  • Embrace Healthy Thoughts 
    • Keep things in perspective 
    • Accept change 
    • Maintain a hopeful outlook 
    • Learn from your past
  • Build Your Connections 
    • Prioritize relationships 
    • Join a group 
  • Find Purpose 
    • Help others 
    • Be proactive 
    • Move toward your goals 
    • Look for opportunities for self-discovery 

Do you have more questions or want to read more about your score and what it means? is a fantastic source of easy-to-understand information by one of the country’s leading experts in ACEs, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris. We encourage you to learn more and control your destiny.

ACEs score graphs (PDF) from “The relationship of adverse childhood experiences to adult health, well being, social function and health care” by Drs. Vincent Felitti and Robert Anda

Local mental health resources

Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs)

You cannot undo or change your ACEs score, But you can improve your long-term health and wellness destiny by gaining resilience with Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs).

PCEs Questions

Before your 18th birthday, how often did you: 

  • Feel able to talk to your family about feelings 
  • Feel your family stood by you during difficult times 
  • Enjoy participating in community traditions 
  • Feel a sense of belonging in high school 
  • Feel supported by friends 
  • Have at least two non-parent adults who took a genuine interest in you 
  • Feel safe and protected by an adult in your home.

Research shows that the single most important thing you can do to improve your path is to surround yourself with people who will consistently support you, who will listen to you, and who will validate your feelings. Another critical step is to connect with a trained counselor. This could be a school counselor, a licensed therapist, or a mental health clinician.

Why do we care about PACEs?

We want to help everyone take control of their destiny to live healthy and satisfying lives. To do that we need individuals, organizations, communities, and systems to understand the impact they have on kids’ life paths. So we need to talk about PACEs (both positive and adverse childhood experiences) and how they intertwine throughout all of our lives.

At the individual level, learning about ACEs helps us each understand why we behave the way we do, and that our coping behavior is normal—a normal response to abnormal circumstances. Learning about PCEs provides direction to heal. The key concept about PACEs is that learning about both, together, can help improve our health and well-being. It gives us hope.

At the organizational level, staff and leaders at our local schools, churches, athletics, and social groups can use what they know about PACEs to create positive environments and programs that help offset prior adverse experiences and help their members find a healthy life path.

At the community level, educating the public about PACEs can provide hope and inspire people to think of new ways to support families, organizations, and communities. Understanding how positive and adverse experiences impact our life path offers an opportunity for engagement with all sectors. Communities can use this new lens to create mindful, healing-centered, research-informed approaches to prevent adversity and encourage connection and healing.

At the system level, policymakers and leaders can use research about PACEs to find common ground across fields and to support policies that promote the understanding of PACEs and how adversity and positive experiences work together.

Learn your score, control your destiny