ACES (sometimes referred to as Acute Childhood Experiences, toxic stress, or childhood trauma) are unhappy, unpleasant, and hurtful experiences that occur during childhood.
According to Harvard University's Center on the Developing Child, "The future of any society depends on its ability to foster the healthy development of the next generation. Extensive research on the biology of stress now shows that healthy development can be derailed by excessive or prolonged activation of stress response systems in the body and brain. Such toxic stress can have damaging effects on learning, behavior, and health across the lifespan."
Early Brain Development
We know that nurturing, responsive, and individualized interactions from birth help develop healthy brain structure. Healthy brain architecture is the necessary foundation for optimal future learning, behavior and health.
Excessive and Repeated Stress causes disruption of brain architecture, impairs cell growth and interferes with healthy neural circuits. This includes growing up (prior to age 18) in a household with:
— Recurrent physical abuse
— Recurrent emotional abuse
— Sexual abuse
— Emotional or physical neglect
— An alcohol or drug abuser
— An incarcerated household member
— A person who experiences chronic depression, mental illness, suicide thoughts, or who has experienced
hospitalization for mental health care
— A mother who is treated violently or abused
— One or no parents
Many chronic diseases in adults are determined decades earlier, by experiences in childhood.