Sometimes the dots are too random and scattered to connect to make a clear picture on your own.

There was the Christmas morning photo of the Pokémon figures all lined up in a row, right beside my daughter’s neatly-lined array of new school supplies recently removed from her stocking. My Facebook post’s caption had a smiley emoji with the words “only my children.”

There was the little boy who covered his ears as he sat inside the house on the entryway steps, watching the neighbors shoot off fireworks. Asthma was a great reason to avoid the smoke, and I had decided to keep him inside because I hoped to sleep once the noise subsided.

There was the little boy covering his ears because the mega-convergence of cicadas was astoundingly loud. It was a once in every 100-year event. (Those are happening too much, I think.)

There was the desperately crying child huddled in a corner at the doctor’s office, terrorized about an unexpected plot twist involving wearing a gown in front of a stranger. We were just there for a refill of asthma medication so we could send an inhaler to school for the new year. Why did he need to strip to his underwear? The nurse was unbelievably rude, and I wanted to throat punch her. She snarled this was a ridiculous tantrum and he must have some kind of mental illness. I sympathized with his vulnerability and left that cave in momma-bear mode. We changed pediatricians immediately.

There was also the boy with overlapping circles of friends in different social settings. Joking. Smiling so big.

The boy who loved fantasy stories. Series after series after series of worlds built by someone else’s words which were talked about with rapture.

The boy who was quiet and reserved in new situations– like his mom.

The boy who was the all-star of recess kickball distance kicks.

The boy who made new friends at chess tournaments and rarely came back to home base all day.

The boy who cuddled and snuggled and giggled and said all the words.

The teen who sometimes still laughed with a much deeper pitch, who rode the pendulum back and forth between wanting his parents’ company and not– as teens are prone to do.

It’s possible the astigmatism of proximity kept me from seeing there were dots to connect. It’s possible I ignored them.

A dyslexia diagnosis in the spring unlocked a door and allowed us to enter and sit together on a cozy couch, finally reading and understanding the history in the Book of Us.

As we turned the page from the dyslexia chapter and opened the one entitled “High School” we encountered something we had not noticed on the Table of Contents.

Autism–

A section written in ink that only appears in the right light, a section connecting dots I didn’t even know were there.

The IEP screening team asked me to come in a few days early to talk before the official meeting.

They had discovered a teen who talks to no one.

All day.

A teen who doesn’t easily shift tasks, who sometimes seems unaware, lost inside his thoughts.

A teen who intuitively sees such amazing patterns the proctor has never had a test taker get to the last question in the decade of her career before she tested him. He is shockingly smart in that way.

“We are pretty sure we need to consider educational Autism.”

Quiet words, spoken cautiously.

Cinder blocks of information dropped from a safe social distance into a still pond.

I see.

But I hadn’t.

I’m sitting here on the couch with the Book of Us still open on my lap, waiting for someone to write the instructional part of this chapter so I can read it.

This sheds light on one of my posts from earlier this month- The Dark Side of the Moon.