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Children and caregivers' exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACES): Association with children's and caregivers' psychological outcomes in a therapeutic preschool program


Exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACE) has been found to have a profound negative impact on multiple child outcomes, including academic achievement, social cognition patterns, and behavioral adjustment. However, these links have yet to be examined in preschool children that are already experiencing behavior or social-emotional problems. Thus, the present study examined the links between the caregiver's and the child's exposure to ACE and multiple child and caregiver's outcomes in a sample of 30 preschool children enrolled in a Therapeutic Nursery Program (TNP). Children are typically referred to this TNP due to significant delays in their social emotional development that often result in difficulty functioning in typical childcare, home, and community settings. Analyses revealed some contradictory patterns that may be specific to this clinical sample. Children with higher exposure to ACE showed more biased social information processing patterns and their caregivers reported lower child social skills than caregivers of children with less exposure, however their inhibitory control levels were higher (better control) and staff reported that these children exhibited better social skills as well as better approaches to learning than children with less exposure. No such contradictions were found in relation to the caregiver's exposure to ACE, as it was positively associated with a number of negative child and caregiver outcomes. (author abstract)

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