Gin & Zin

Book Report- Childhood Disrupted

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My mind is blown after reading Childhood Disrupted: How your biography becomes your biology, and how you can heal. I’ve been working with adults in a counseling setting for 8 years, but over the last 3 years working with pediatrics as well… So, have you heard of the ACE score?An ACE score refers to Adverse Childhood Event score. The physician I’ve worked with gives his adults this 10 questionnaire form to fill out. The questions relate to abuse, love, and security as a child. The higher the ACE score, the more likelihood of disease. You read that right. Even scoring 1/10 makes a patient more likely to have disease than 0/10. And some people score 4/10, or 6/10.

I’ve been very familiar with this test, score, and talking about it with some of my patients when appropriate. Patients like it in a sense that it justifies some of their health challenges. This validation can be magical and give them what they need to move through their trauma. Not to say that the trauma is automatically gone after I say that sucks you have an ACE score of 4, but having someone acknowledge that wow these things that have happened to you and have caused your body to respond to stress in a different way than someone with a 0/10 ACE score really can mean a lot.

Here is the questionnaire:

Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Questionnaire

Finding your ACE Score

While you were growing up, during your first 18 years of life:

1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often … Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?

Yes No If yes enter 1 ________

2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often … Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured? Yes No If yes enter 1 ________

3. Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever… Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Try to or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal sex with you?

Yes No If yes enter 1 ________

4. Did you often feel that … No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other? Yes No If yes enter 1 ________

5. Did you often feel that … You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it? Yes No If yes enter 1 ________

6. Were your parents ever separated or divorced? Yes No If yes enter 1 ________

7. Was your mother or stepmother: Often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes or often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?

Yes No If yes enter 1 ________

8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic or who used street drugs?

Yes No If yes enter 1 ________

9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill or did a household member attempt suicide? Yes No If yes enter 1 ________

10. Did a household member go to prison? Yes No If yes enter 1 ________

Now add up your “Yes” answers: _______ This is your ACE Score

Why is this so interesting? Well I’m a digger. We don’t always know why things happen to us, or why we get certain ailments, and other people don’t. One of my favorite analogies in the book is that a person with a higher ACE score (more trauma) starts their barrel half full of water, then environment, toxins, diet, etc, add other stressors to the body and overflow the barrel, giving them some form of disease when a person with a low or non existent score starts with an empty barrel.

We cannot go back in time, but we can work on our issues if we have ACE scores (and even if you are so lucky to not have an ACE score) so that they don’t affect our children, or so that the cycle doesn’t continue. Another great example is of a child whose dad didn’t seem abusive but would be completely cold, shut off, or non connected, not giving praise, etc. So then that child turned adult could likely have the same challenges with their child not having that similar example. It’s not bound to happen but could. Roll with me here. Another example given is of a parent’s emotion in general, and not keeping kids informed. For example, a parent totally hiding their emotions, or not discussing what is going on with them. Some things should to be censored, for sure! But what about Mommy being upset about losing a friend? Or about losing her Mom, her job, etc. Kids will internalize things, or think that parents are upset with them. This book recommends addressing emotion, calling it for what it is, validating a child that they had nothing to do with it. We can teach our children that emotions are okay, and that we are coping with them in the best way we can. We are giving our children tools to deal with life.

I personally feel like other than all the normal stuff that I want my kids to be- smart, happy, successful, strong, etc, I REALLY want my kids to cope well when things don’t go right. This is tricky as all kids and people are different. And I’m a human too, still learning what works and what doesn’t work.

If you have a score greater than 1, please read the book and/ or tell your MD. The study that was done to compile all the data was by a fantastic Kaiser MD over decades ago, and was done on thousands of people. Even if you have 0/10, it’s a great read that can deepen your parenting skills, validate others, and empower others to take control over their life and health.

The author also recommends meditation and healthy eating, so of course I love that.

Here’s the amazon link:

2 thoughts on “Book Report- Childhood Disrupted

  1. Just added that to my reading list!! Another book on my list is “The body keeps the score: brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma”, by Bessel Van Der Kolk. Very similar ideas. Thanks for the great resources!!

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