Essential for Living Workshop

This week I had the pleasure of travelling to Edinburgh to see Vincent Carbone. He was there presenting a three day workshop, the first two days were an introduction to Verbal Behaviour workshop and the final day was an workshop around the ‘Essential for Living’ (EFL) curriculum and assessment tool.

I attended the final day in which Carbone explained about how to use the EFL, develop targets and implement teaching of these skills. The EFL is ideal for learners who had moderate to severe needs. This assessment is also ideal for learners who have medical needs, as this assessment addresses these specific needs, unlike some other assessment tools. The skills in each domain are categorised into ‘Must have’, ‘Should have’ and ‘Good to have’. It is important to teach the important ‘must have’ skills first. The assessment also includes five domains, which include ‘speaking and listening’, ‘doing’, ‘tolerating’ and ‘tool movements’. Speaking and listening involves making requests, listener responding and answering questions. Doing includes daily living skills and academic skills (writing, maths, etc.). Tolerating focuses on the learners ability to wait, tolerating being old no and accepting medical treatment, or attending medical appointments. Tool movements include echoic, matching and imitation skills. Initially you can conduct the ‘Essential Eight’ assessment, which will help you get a quick overview of the child’s skills and deficits, and chose appropriate targets to begin working on straight away.

Carbone also talked about making teaching functional. This can be done by embedding targets into daily living skills. For instance, while making food or preparing their own lunch in the kitchen, contriving requests for ‘open’, asking the learner to locate (receptive) or label (tact) items (e.g., spoon, knife, plate, etc.). Another example would be teaching matching, receptive or tact targets for toiletry items in the bathroom, e.g., toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, etc.. This will support generalisation and make teaching more meaningful for these learners. The EFL focuses on teaching skills that enable  independence and quality of life. McGrevy & Troy state “Expectations consistent with safe, effective, and high-quality participation in family, school, and community living should be embraced, and ‘life skills’ and Essential for Living should guide instruction and habilitation”.


Talking Autism are hosting Patrick McGreevy, in May (7-8th) for a two-day workshop around the EFL curriculum and assessment tool, so if you want to learn more then visit the ‘Talking Autism’ events page. There is also a limited time sale on the EFL on the ‘Talking Autism’ store to buy the assessment.


Also, if you have the opportunity to attend a workshop with Vince Carbone in the future, or listen to him talk, I highly recommend you do! In December 2016 Vincent Carbone joined me for an interview in the newsletter. If you want to learn more about Vincent you can view it now.

Me with Vince Carbone in Edinburgh March 2019


McGreevy, P. (2009). Teaching verbal behavior to children and adults with developmental
disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder. In P. Reed (Ed.), Behavioral theories and
interventions for autism: New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

McGreevy, P., Fry, T., & Cornwall, C. (2012, 2014). Essential for living. Orlando, FL: Patrick

McGreevy, P., & Fry, T., An overview of EFL, Retrieved from:

Useful Links

Patrick McGreevy/EFL website:

Talking Autism website:

Vince Carbone/Carbone Clinic UK Website:



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