Speech-language pathologists work with individuals who have experienced various levels of adversity. The title of this thesis is The Relationship between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Social Communication: A Survey study. The researcher, Chey Robertson, from the communication sciences and disorders program from a university in the Midwest investigated the relationship between ACEs and social communication such as social cognition, social interaction, and pragmatics. ACEs includes physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, and physical and emotional neglect. ACEs also includes household dysfunction such as a household member with mental illness, witnessing domestic violence, incarceration of a household member, household member who abuses drugs or alcohol, and separation of parents. The aim of this study is to focus on the association between ACEs and social communication as it is important for SLPs, other health professionals, and educators to consider all the factors that might influence an individual’s ability or inability to communicate effectively. A survey was used to collect information about participants’ ACEs and social communication. The survey was disbursed to college students at a Midwest university from October 2018 to January 2019. The survey included an ACE and social communication questionnaire. An analysis of the data focused on a correlation between the total ACE score and social communication (social cognition, social interaction, and pragmatics). T-tests were also run to compare significant ACE scores and social communication with less significant ACE scores and social communication. Furthermore, t-tests were run to compare each ACE with social communication. The results of the study partially support the hypothesis as a weak relationship was found between the total number of ACEs individuals were exposed to and social communication. Additionally, a significant difference was found when comparing individuals who had experienced ACEs (specifically physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional neglect, and/or a household member with a mental illness, such as depression, or suicidal ideation) and their social communication (social cognition, social interaction, and pragmatics) difficulties.


Bonnie Berg

Committee Member

Megan Mahowald

Committee Member

Brooke Burk

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Speech, Hearing, and Rehabilitation Services


Allied Health and Nursing

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.



Rights Statement

In Copyright