CHICAGO—Across the United States these days, it seems as if hardly a week goes by without a conference or a workshop about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and how people are implementing trauma-informed and resilience-building practices in their organizations — including schools, prisons, homeless shelters, hospitals, medical clinics, youth services or businesses.
This month ACEs and trauma conferences and workshops were held in Los Angeles, Santa Rosa and Pasadena, CA, in Dover, DE, Brainerd, MN, Austin, TX, and, the 2015 Midwest Regional Summit on Adverse Childhood Experiences held March 12-13 at Loyola University School of Law in Chicago.
For people who have known for years about the ACE Study, epidemiological research completed by Kaiser Permanente in San Diego and the Centers for Disease Control — such as Laura Porter and Dr. Roy Wade, both of whom spoke at the Midwest summit –- this interest can’t come soon enough, given the significance of the research.
Still, for most people – although including most of the 140 attendees at the third annual conference hosted by the Illinois ACE Response Collaborative – their response is: “What are ACEs?” “What’s trauma-informed?” “What does resilience-building mean?”
Research has shown a direct link between childhood adversity — ACEs – and the adult onset of chronic disease, mental illness, violence and being a victim of violence, explained Wade, a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and member of the Philadelphia ACE Task Force. ACEs create mental and physical health risks that continue to crop up over a person’s lifetime if not adequately addressed.
These can include developmental delays early in life, mental health and academic achievement issues in childhood, involvement in the juvenile justice system, and alcohol and drug abuse as a youth and adult.