The Relationship of Adverse Childhood Experiences to Cognitive, Behavioral and Emotional Functioning in Children

Griffin, Ginger, Educational Psychology - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Downer, Jason, CU-Human Svcs, University of Virginia

Research on both adults and children have shown the significant impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE), traumatic or significant events occurring before the age of 18, on a variety of areas of functioning. Traditional ACE research has used a cumulative or additive approach to measuring ACEs but more recent approaches are incorporating more complex methods as a way of identifying domains of ACEs to determine if different elements interact or predict long-term health outcomes. This study measured ACEs from a domain-based approach to determine the relationship to children’s cognitive functioning and behavior. A sample of 94 archived reports from a community-based clinic were reviewed for ACEs, cognitive scores, and parent and teacher behavior ratings. Results showed that both ACE domains, Household Dysfunctions and Child Maltreatment, were moderately correlated. The prevalence of ACEs in this community-based sample was greater than the rate for occurrence in the state of Virginia. In regression models, when examining ACEs separated into Household Dysfunctions and Child Maltreatment domains, only working memory cognitive scores were associated with the Child Maltreatment domain. Children experiencing less maltreatment were rated higher in internalizing problems by parents and children with higher externalizing problems received a greater number of diagnoses. Teacher ratings were not related to any ACE domain. While this study utilized a community-based sample, which is less common in ACE research, limitations are discussed.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
Adverse Childhood Experiences, ACE, Children
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