There Are ACEs and Then There Are ACNs

Dear Parents,

ACEs are Adverse Childhood Experiences that seriously impact the development of children when they multiply in number before the child reaches 18.  If you are unfamiliar, let me direct you to to take the questionnaire and to become a little more trauma-informed.

ACNs are Adverse Childhood Neglect Experiences.  Apparently, the “E” is left off because the acronym would spell ACNE and we don’t want confusion here.

Take the ACN Inventory to see just how much you or your partner or your child is impacted by developmental trauma related to adverse childhood neglect.  It’s a real thing.

ACN Inventory By Berry Weinhold, PhD

In the first year of your life specifically and generally prior to your 18th birthday:

  1. Were you placed in childcare or with someone other than a primary caregiver before you were one month old? For all of these questions: If yes, put a 1.
  2. Did you spend less than 20 hours a week being cared for by our mother during your first year of life?
  3. As an infant, were you allowed to cry yourself asleep at night without your parent(s) attempting to comfort you?
  4. Did you feel afraid of your mother or other adult caregivers?
  5. Was your mother or another primary caregiver chronically depressed?
  6. Did your mother or other primary adult caregiver suffer from substance abuse?
  7. Did your mother or any other primary caregiver fail to tell you that they loved you?
  8. Did your mother or other primary caregiver avoid hugging you, picking you up or making eye contact with you?
  9. Were you separated from your mother for more than a week for any reason in your first year of life?
  10. Did your primary caregivers leave you with strangers or other non-bonded caregivers for more than one week before your first birthday?
  11. Were you told directly or indirectly that your parents were too overwhelmed to care for you?
  12. Did your parents fail to take your home environment safe leading to accidents?
  13. Were you told or treated by either of your parents to “be seen and not heard?”
  14. Did you frequently move when you were very young?
  15. Was your other cold toward you when you were a child?
  16. As a child did you feel your parents didn’t understand your needs?
  17. Did you feel unwanted by your parents?
  18. Were you unplanned by your parents?
  19. Did you have frequent illnesses when you were under a year of age (colic, ear infections etc,)?
  20. Even though you weren’t adopted, did you feel you were “adopted” when you were growing up in your family?
  21. Was your mother under 19 years of age when you were born?
  22. Were you a “play-pen” baby?
  23. Did you believe that there was something fundamentally wrong with you because of the way you thought or behaved?
  24. Were you “parentized” or put in an inappropriate parenting role when you were very young?
  25. Did your parents fail to provide proper medical care for you?
  26. Did your parents fail to teach you or require you to develop proper personal hygiene habits?
  27. Were you left unsupervised for long periods of time?
  28. Were you left in the care of someone who was significantly impaired or of questionable character?
  29. Were you placed in dangerous situations or with dangerous people?
  30. Were you verbally abused and your parents(s) did nothing to protect you?
  31. Were you sexually abused and your parent(s) did nothing to protect you?
  32. Were you physically abused and your parent(s) did nothing to protect you?
  33. Were you emotionally abused and your parent(s) did nothing to protect you?
  34. Did your parent(s) fail to make sure you got to school on time?
  35. Did your parent(s) fail to make sure you completed your homework?
  36. Did your parent(s) fail to provide proper nutrition for you?
  37. Did you parent(s) fail to provide proper or clean clothing for you?
  38. Did you have siblings who were less than one year older than you?
  39. Were you a “latch-key” child who had no one there when you came home for school?
  40. Did your parent(s) compare you unfavorably to your siblings?

Score:  Count the number of items where you answered, “Yes.”


If you had five or more yes answers, you likely had developmental traumas in your childhood caused by neglect.  The higher number of yes answers, the more severe the developmental traumas were in your childhood and the likelihood they could cause mental and physical health problems in your adult years.  If you answered yes to 21 or more of the questions, this qualifies as “severe neglect.”

The Attach Place

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

There are no national norms for fully understanding the impact of childhood neglect; however, many researchers and clinicians believe that ACN experiences lead to more long-term health effects.  This is likely due to the reality that neglect goes unremedied and other abuses can be more easily seen by others and even more easily acknowledged by the sufferers.  People get help for childhood abuse and rarely for childhood neglect.

If you were neglected as a child, you may have a very hard time parenting children from difficult beginnings.  You will likely need help.  Get it.  Everyone in your house wants you to get the support and healing you need but maybe never realized.

Love matters,



Upcoming Events in Sacramento…

Reminder: Strictly Social Autism Spectrum Disorder Pizza Night for Tweens (11 yrs – 16 yrs) at The Attach Place. December 15th, 2017 from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm.  Pizza and snacks provided. Please RSVP to so we get enough pizza, right? This is a  monthly social group for the children; and caregivers will have an opportunity to connect, chat, and chill in a separate space. A donation of $0.00 to $5.00 will be accepted for pizza and supervision if you are able, but please don’t let that be an attendance barrier because the group is FREE.  ASD Kids need a social life and this is a great way to make it happen.

NEW!  5-Week FRIENDSHIP SOCIAL SKILLS IMPROV GROUPS FOR CHILDREN WITH DEVELOPMENTAL TRAUMA–6-8 yrs group and 9 to 11 yrs group.  The groups will be $20 per session, CALVCB payment eligible, structured, and fun, too.  Groups will begin in January 2018.  Contact for more details.

If you haven’t responded to the Capital Adoptive Family Alliance (California residents only) survey about needs you have for your family while raising adopted children, here is the linkFill it out now!  That is my way of encouraging everyone to answer the survey questions to the best of your ability. You can skip anything that you don’t want to answer.  This is a way to get funding channeled to adoptive parents.  Super special opportunity for all of us adoptive families who need financing for services.

UPCOMING ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT:  Join our monthly Adoptive/Foster Parent Support Group on December 13th, 2017! Open to all parents/caregivers at no cost. Support Group is every 2nd Wednesday of every month from 6 pm to 8 pm at 3336 Bradshaw Road, Ste 175, Sacramento, CA 95827.

TRY MY BOOK FOR DAILY SUPPORT: Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT.  Daily inspirational reading for those who sometimes find it hard to keep hope alive. There is hope for healing.

FOLLOW US:  Twitter @lovingradkids and @Attachmenthelp or Facebook.

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