Beyond ACEs, with Dr. Lisa Amaya-Jackson

Season 1Episode 11December 4, 2019

Why context matters when it comes to an individual’s adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)—and why all ACEs are not created equal.

In 1998, the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study showed that traumatic events in childhood were common and could have lasting effects—on everything from SAT scores while we’re in school to long-term physical health issues as adults. But are all ACEs created equal? We invited Dr. Lisa Amaya-Jackson from the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress to discuss the benefits—and the limitations—of keeping score. Have we oversimplified the way in which we talk about ACEs? What’s the role of the community in developing resilience? (And why does she think “resilience” is both a beautiful word and a burden?) What do we need to know to help survivors heal?

Topics in this episode:

  • The terms used to define trauma. (1:34)
  • “All ACEs were not created equal.” (5:29)
  • How an ACE can be more potent, and the problem with oversimplification. (8:58)
  • How an ACEs assessment fits into the CAC rubric. (20:23)
  • Advice for CACs. (26:20)
  • Resilience and how communities and organizations can help kids recover. (29:43)
  • What’s coming up at the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. (40:53)


The original Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study

National Child Traumatic Stress Network

National Center for Child Traumatic Stress

Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope (2016 documentary)

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, at TEDMED 2014, “How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime

Prevent Child Abuse America

Core Curriculum on Childhood Trauma, including The 12 Core Concepts: Concepts for Understanding Traumatic Stress Responses in Children and Families

Transcript to come.