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Hello all,

I work at an Early Learning Center and we will be presenting on ACES and Resilience to the parents of preschoolers. One of the aspects we have debated is when to offer them the ACES and Resilience surveys. However, after reading https://www.acesconnection.com...under-the-microscope I am wondering what purpose it would ultimately serve (and what unintended consequences it may have) to give parents the surveys. It would be optional, and we are partnering with a local therapy clinic to have their staff be available during and after the presentations. Does anyone have any input on either side - to offer the surveys or not at the presentations? Any insight is appreciated. Thank you!

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HI Melissa:
I know it's WAY late and I apologize for not seeing your question earlier! While I don't favor screening of parents I'm all for sharing surveys with parents. I don't favor screening til the medical, insurance, and screening places doing screenings have addressed race, gender, class, disability, homophobia and basically all kinds of bias since we know those most impacted most with most risks for ACE-associated issues are poor, female, LBGTQ, of color, and struggling with emotional and physical issues.  The people most impacted most by ACEs are ones least likely to be treated with equity, justice, and compassion and so for me, the risks of labeling don't outweigh the benefits when I think all the benefits can be gained just by sharing info. about ACEs, healing, and how and where parents can get more support for symptoms, struggles, and causes of adult trauma, stress, and strain.

But I always share the questions, the info. and surveys when I've presented.  I say "You might think about your score, your parents, how your child might score, or how a partner might score." Or you might want to look at it and not tally your own score.

For me, I find it useful as well for a conversation such as, "How many of us even knew these things are considered trauma in childhood?" For some of it, we just considered it childhood and some of it was routine for us and generations of family so that alone can be a conversation. I know I didn't consider all the ACEs to be traumatic well into my 40's and would have said just physical and sexual abuse are traumatic for many years of my life. Even witnessing domestic violence, or having involvement with child protective services, or being abused in first three years, pre-memory, I didn't always know "counted" in terms of impact on my own or others body, brain, nervous system, life and fears and abilities related to parenting.

Also, I love sharing clips from Donna Jackson Nakazawa or some quotes from Dr. Claudia Gold, which are educational but also compassionate towards parents, and ultimately hopeful. 

I know there are lots of different opinions and many feel it's "triggering" to bring up ACEs, but I find silence and avoidance far more triggering. For those of us with lots of ACEs, it's not like the impacts aren't already present in our lives at time, having some place for contextualizing them can be powerful and it doesn't have to be an extremely intense conversation. I think just saying, "We'll be talking about hard experiences in childhood and if that's not something you want to think about right now, please take a break or feel free to doodle and not take this test." But, often, these are the topics being talked about and discussed in one form or another and parents, if there's safety, are often eager to share. 

But I do think open ended questions like, "What's most surprising?" or "Did you know this?" or "How does this impact you?" For some, I think it's validating and empowering and for others it feels scary and daunting. I think addressing that and sharing that and honoring that it's all of that, and ultimately powerful and hopeful, and daunting, as we have SO MUCH impact as parents.

Again, I apologize for not responding sooner @Melissa L. McPheeters! Please feel free, as well, to share any questions or thoughts as a blog post as well as an ask-the community question. It's SUCH a good and important question!!!

Cissy

Thank you for your reply, Cissy! I appreciate the perspective you shared. What we ended up doing at the first evening of the event was sending the parents home with a folder that had the ACEs and Resilience surveys, in addition to some other brief documents about Resilience, Serve and Return, etc. On the second evening, we did ask parents to reflect on their experience if they had done the survey at home. I especially like the point you made about acknowledging that often, we don't necessarily consider the ACEs to be trauma because it became "normal". 

We are planning to do the event for families annually, so we will definitely be taking your thoughts and suggestions into consideration when we plan for next school year! The parents also were interested in continuing to meet so we are organizing some Parent Cafes before the end of the year

Melissa:
Thanks for the update. I think parent cafes and watching and then discussing movies is great. It's nice for someone to guide, lead and prompt with questions and make a comfy space. Once that happens, it seems parents (and everyone) is pretty eager to share. Did you feel like your event went well? It sounds like it!
Cissy

Cissy White (ACEs Connection Staff) posted:

Melissa:
Thanks for the update. I think parent cafes and watching and then discussing movies is great. It's nice for someone to guide, lead and prompt with questions and make a comfy space. Once that happens, it seems parents (and everyone) is pretty eager to share. Did you feel like your event went well? It sounds like it!
Cissy

Hi Cissy,

Yes, we were pleased with the event! We had a snow day on the original day of Part 1 and rescheduled it for the evening of Part 2, and then shifted Part 2 to the following week. We ended up having only about 1/3 of the participants who had RSVP'd, but I think that was largely due to the rescheduling that had to happen. We're looking forward to making some changes and scheduling it earlier next year to hopefully avoid the snow

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