Adding Attachment to the ACE's

Originally published at:


After completing the Anakin Skywalker post, it was apparent that the Adverse Childhood Experiences was missing the important role that attachment plays in development.

As such, I came across an instrument used by Complex Trauma Resources, which they have given me permission to use.

Here are the areas that they consider:

  1. Psychological abuse by parents/caregivers; e.g. verbal abuse, excessive punishment
  2. Physical abuse
  3. Sexual abuse
  4. Emotional neglect
  5. Physical neglect or malnourishment
  6. Domestic violence
  7. Parental alcoholism or drug use in home
  8. Loss of biological parent before age 18 (Death or absence)
  9. Parental mental illness or depression
  10. Household member imprisoned
  11. Multiple changes in placement or primary caregiver
  12. Serious medical issue involving hospitalization?

Notice that the wording is simpler, and now instead of 10 items, there are 12. The two additional areas being considered are: changes in caregiving; and serious medical issues that would take a child away from their primary caregiver.

In future posts, I will be using this alignment, noting that items 1-10 go towards the ACE’s total score; while 11 & 12 are attachment related.

I’ve wanted to include attachment because it is a buffer to the impacts of developmental trauma. Below are some of the impacts of adverse childhood experiences can have on an individual in their youth and adult years.


Don’t lose hope. This video clip, while lengthy, explains that even if ACE’s happen, healing can occur through a healthy attachment: