Armond Goes to a Party by Nancy Carlson and Armond Isaak
Armond likes to sit quietly and read. He likes things to be calm, orderly, and structured. He doesn’t like loud noises, strong smells, or surprises. So when Armond’s mother tells him it’s time to go to a birthday party for his friend Felicia, Armond is worried. Parties are loud, disorganized, and sometimes smelly. And worst of all, Armond can’t help feeling invisible at parties because he just can’t think of anything to say, and no one seems to be interested in the same things he is. But Armond’s mother reminds him that Felicia is his friend, and that sometimes being a good friend means trying your best to be there for them, even when it means doing something hard.
At the party, Armond’s worst fears are realized. Felicia’s baby sibling is smelly. The other party guests are noisy and unruly. No one wants to listen to him talk about dinosaurs. Armond gets frustrated and cranky and overwhelmed. Oh no!
But Felicia and her mom are Armond’s good friends, and they know just how to help Armond enjoy the party. They help him take a break by bringing him to a quiet room where he can recover from all the sensory overload. Then, when Armond is ready, he’s welcomed back into the party just in time to help Felicia open her presents. When Armond’s mother picks him up after the party, Armond admits that it was sometimes tough being there, but that he was glad he went.
Armond Isaak was a student in one of Nancy Carlson’s writing programs for kids, and with his mother’s encouragement he approached Carlson to work together on a book about having Asperger’s “to help every young boy or girl with Asperger’s to realize they are not alone in a world where they often feel lonely and out of place”. The book provides helpful information on how to be a good friend to children with ASD and Asperger’s, who, like Armond mentions, often feel like they don’t quite fit in with the rest of the world. It also reminds readers that being a good friend means doing your best, but it doesn’t mean being perfect, or changing who you are. Armond puts himself in a potentially uncomfortable position because he wants to be there for Felicia, and in turn, Felicia tries her best to create an environment where Armond can feel more comfortable and participate in the best way for him. Neither friend wants the other to change, and both friends recognize and appreciate each other for who they are.
Armond Goes to a Party is, as the tagline says, a book about Asperger’s and friendship, and it is also a valuable tool for grownups who work with young children. While the book is specifically about children with Asperger’s, it’s a good reminder to all of us to make sure all of our children’s programs and events are flexible, inclusive, and offer opportunities for children to participate in the ways that suit them best, so that no child ever feels lonely and out of place.