Adverse Child Experiences (ACEs) and Trauma Informed Care

Research on the biology of stress shows how major adversity, such as extreme poverty, abuse, or neglect in early childhood can weaken developing brain architecture and permanently set the body’s stress response system on high alert. Science also shows that providing stable, responsive, nurturing relationships in the earliest years of life can prevent or even reverse the damaging effects of early life stress, with lifelong benefits for learning, behavior, and health.

Resources on Adverse Child Events (ACEs)

ACEs Primer Video-This 5-minute video that explains the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study and research that revealed the link between childhood trauma and the adult onset of chronic disease, mental illness, violence and being a victim of violence (KPJR Films LLC, 2015 Vimeo, 5 minutes.)  

CDC ACEs Webpage-Contains information on the original ACE study, definitions, demographics, and major findings, current data, journal articles and additional resources and presentation graphics.

Harvard University Center for the Developing Child Resource Library-Contains multiple articles, fact sheets and videos on the following topics:

Toxic Stress-Overview of the effects of toxic stress on children's health. (Center for the Developing Child, Harvard University)

InBrief: The Impact of Early Adversity on Children’s Development-Summarizes research on how major adversity, such as extreme poverty, abuse, or neglect impacts the developing brain and body’s stress response system, and how we can impact positive change through relationships. (Center for the Developing Child, Harvard University)

How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime-Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explains how the repeated stress of abuse, neglect, parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues effects on the development of the brain. This unfolds across a lifetime, to the point where those who’ve experienced high levels of trauma are at triple the risk for heart disease and lung cancer. It is a call to action for health professionals. (Nadine Burke Harris, Ted Talk 2/2015, 16:02)


Resources for Creating Trauma-Sensitive Classrooms and Schools

Trauma-Sensitive Schools Learning Modules-Provides 14 learning modules for creating Trauma-Sensitive Schools (TSS). This initiative is modeled after the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) school improvement process. (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction)

Page updated 710/18