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Essential for Living

About The Instrument

Essential for Living is a communication, behavior, and functional skills assessment, curriculum, and skill-tracking instrument for both children and adults with moderate-to-severe disabilities. Essential for Living is not a developmental instrument and it is neither age, nor grade- referenced (e.g. it does not include skills arranged in an order in which they are often acquired by typically developing children and sets of skills within are not categorized by age or grade). This instrument is based on concepts, principles, and empirically-validated procedures from Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and from B. F. Skinner’s groundbreaking analysis of verbal behavior (Skinner, 1957).

Essential for Living includes eight skills (i.e. The Essential Eight) that are absolutely essential for a happy, fulfilling, and productive life as a child or an adult. Without these skills, children and adults with disabilities will almost certainly exhibit forms of problem behavior, will have limited access to preferred items, activities, places, and people, and will have limited contact and interaction with the community in which they live.

Unlike other instruments, Essential for Living emphasizes the learner as a speaker and includes a special chapter entitled Methods of Speaking. This chapter provides specific guidelines and procedures for facilitating and teaching spoken-word communication, and for selecting, confirming, and maintaining alternative methods of speaking for children and adults who have limited or no effective use of spoken words.

For Whom the Instrument is Intended:
  • Non-verbal children who are struggling to become vocal
  • Non-verbal children or adults who have no effective method of speaking
  • Young children with autism who, because of problem behavior, are making limited progress on a developmental curriculum, such as the VB-MAPP or the ABLLS
  • Older children who are no longer making progress on a developmental curriculum, such as the VB-MAPP or the ABLLS, and who need a curriculum that includes more functional skills
  • Children or adults of all ages with moderate or severe disabilities and limited skill repertoires
  • Children or adults who currently require extensive supports or 1:1 supervision
  • Children or adults who cannot be instructed or integrated with family member, peers or taken into the community without problem behavior
  • Children and adults who require precise instruction and measurement

    Essential for Living was developed by Patrick McGreevy, Troy Fry, and Colleen Cornwall. Additional information on the Essential for Living, workshops and presentations, and information on purchasing the assessment can be found at: www.essentialforliving.com.
More Information
  • Brief Intro to EFL
  • EFL: Getting Started
  • EFL: The Speaker Initiative


  • Committed to maximizing the quality of individual and family life.
    Behavior Language Consultants, LLC.
    PO Box 27116
    Golden Valley, MN 55427
    952.392.8689
    info@behaviorlanguage.com
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