The prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) is higher among children and youth with special health care needs than among their peers without special health care needs, according to Child Trends’ analysis of data from the 2016-17 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH). The survey asks parents or guardians to report whether their child has experienced any of nine ACEs.
The percentage of children and youth with special health care needs who have had an incarcerated parent, witnessed domestic violence, been a victim of or witnessed violence in the neighborhood, lived with an adult with substance abuse or mental illness, or experienced racism is twice as high as among those without special health care needs. These adverse experiences can lead to toxic stress, which increases risk to an individual’s physical, social, and emotional health and well-being. Addressing the causes and consequences of the adversities that affect the well-being of children and youth with special health care needs is essential to creating more equitable outcomes for them.