Handouts for parents about ACEs, toxic stress & resilience

Thanks to the Community & Family Services Division at the Spokane (WA) Regional Health District for putting together this handout for parents.


I found out about it when while doing a story about the trauma-informed elementary schools in Spokane, WA. Public health nurse Melissa Charbonneau mentioned that she'd been giving  this to parents while working in neighborhoods near Whitman Elementary School in Spokane. 


We've updated it, and provided three different versions. The text is the same in all three; the difference between them is the graphics of the children. 


The versions are attached to this blog post. Feel free to download and distribute. 


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HI Tina. You can download, edit and use them as you wish but just please give credit to those that created them (the info at the end: "Thanks to the people in the Community & Family Services Division at the Spokane (WA) Regional Health District for developing this handout for parents in Washington State, and sharing it with others around the world".

When I have spoken to my doctor(s) concerning ACEs, I get little response.  I have made the connection between my own childhood experiences and ACE score and the medical issues I deal with, but my doctors do not seem to be on board with this (perhaps since it isn't covered in medical school?).  They seem to listen, but are unwilling to give it weight or merit because it doesn't relate to their "numbers learning" in terms of this test result number means this diagnosis.  I'd like to lead them away from their numbers learning, but they don't seem comfortable with that.  And until medical experts start emphasizing, and the hard sciences get on board with these concepts completely, we won't made headway.  Thank goodness for those medical experts (thank you) who do!  It's an uphill battle in the Washington DC area -- especially Montgomery County, Maryland where I live.

I'm about four weeks away from finishing my master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Johns Hopkins.  It would be a grand goal to be able to gain the listening ears of some medical professionals here.

I share Christine's observation that a portion of the people I'm trying to reach "tune out" when first hearing the words adverse childhood experiences, trauma, and traumatic stress.  That's why I like that Resilience is the flip side of these handouts.  When educating staff, childcare providers, and others I start the conversation with ACEs.  When educating the general public, I start the conversation with promoting resilience, and back into ACEs once I'm sure I've got their attention.  Thank you for the additional resource!

Tina & Everyone:
I agree that saying "toxic stress"" is more accurate but I'm not sure what I think about it being at the top of the hand-out. Whenever I say things like "trauma" or "toxic stress" I find some people self-censor or don't bother reading because they think, "Doesn't apply to me." I struggle with this all of the time in sharing info. about ACEs. I never know how much to say, at the start, or if, when and how to add stuff about ACEs in, in the middle. 
I wonder if it's helpful to have the flyer in both forms. I think learning how not to be stressed is a safe way for some people to start to think and talk about toxic and traumatic stress. That was true for me. I didn't even know ACEs I had were considered traumatic or toxic until well into my adult years. 
Does anyone else struggle with this in getting the message out to others? Maybe in some circumstances, like a doctor's office, being more specific and less general is even more important - especially for getting buy in from other doctors. I'm just not so sure with families what gets people to keep reading or turns people away. 

Jane, I forgot to tell  you that one participant came up to me after the workshop and reported that after hearing the presentation and looking at the handout you graciously allowed me to print as a handout that she was high on the ACEs scale. She said many things happened in her childhood that were on the list. She was so grateful for all of the information. 

Comment By Peter Chiavetta: Handouts for parents about ACEs, toxic stress


I also love these handouts. They have been a wonderful help. One piece of
feedback is that some of the non-parental caregivers have said resilience
sheet is triggering and they would prefer to see “caregiver” or “family
support” or some other term given so many children may not have a parent
in the picture or are not going to get this kind of support from their

*From:* ACEsConnection [mailto:communitymanager@acesconnection.com]
*Sent:* Monday, May 02, 2016 6:38 AM
*To:* Nicky MacCallum LMFT, NCC
*Subject:* Comment By Peter Chiavetta: Handouts for parents about ACEs,
toxic stress &amp...

It's a great handout for promoting ACEs awareness. I have been using these two hand outs with the ACE survey and Resilience survey for 3 months now. In most cases I witness the pages tucked away with a guarded interest. 

I went to a printing company and had 250 printed up.

Hi Jane!  Thank you so, so much for these wonderful handouts!!  I cannot express how grateful I am to have had all this important information put in to such an easy to understand format.  There are a lot of people I come into contact with who will truly benefit from these pages!


Thank you again!


Wanted to let everyone know. I used the pre-edit handouts in my office. Put 25 up in a folder at the checkin station for pediatric patients and their families and in one week all 25 were gone. I saw three families with the flyer in hand on one day...


They get parents asking questions and wanting to hear more on ACEs and adversity in childhood!!!


Jane, I love these posters. I am putting together a workshop for children's pastors called "Trauma-Informed Churches" and this will be perfect to use. Is it okay if I copy them, leaving full credits on it, and use for a handout? 


They say so much of what is already in my workshop and in a blog post I wrote a while back. 


We really need to be educating our churches. I'm on several children's ministry closed Facebook pages and I almost go berserk when I read about bus ministries that kick kids off the bus because they won't behave or respect the adults. Arggggg. Or when a church uses the three strikes and your out policy with kids from single parent home. You know 1 strike your name goes on the board, 2nd strike your parents are called, 3rd strike you can't come back to the class for 2 weeks. Wrote a blog post about that too. 

Thanks for all you do. 

Linda Ranson Jacobs