"Hey, I know someone you might like to talk to."
I regularly experience someone I know saying this or something like it and making the connection for me with another person. It's always interesting to me why this happens, what drives that networking impulse we have. Obviously some point of possible connection stands out--a love of a certain sport, or a cultural background, field of work, or unique characteristic ("You should meet Mike...he's also got really big feet!") As humans we like similarity--we look for the things in other people that we can resonate with, either things about ourselves or things we like or dislike. These commonalities provide us with some sort of bedrock from which to build the relationship.
For us, however, it's a slightly different motivation to make a connection. I never have someone say "My friend Helen's son likes Thomas the Tank Engine too, you should talk to her!" The predominant reason why anyone suggests a friend or connection for Brian or I is that they know someone who has a child with either Down Syndrome or Autism (or both) and that is our point of commonality.
Why do this, though? Why suggest that just because our children both have an extra 21st chromosome or behavioural difficulties we might be friends? I think the reason is the recognition that we all need friends for our journey, and that on this particular journey for Brian and I and Adam and Caleb, we can use all the friends and support we can find.
It is not so much that our kids are the same, because that is also not true. Just because a child has Down's or Autism doesn't mean they will be anything alike at all. But our journey will still be similar in its trials and speed bumps--waiting for physical development, hoping for words to come out, trying to find resources, lamenting educational obstacles, etc. And this journey is one that is noticeably difficult, like being a foreigner in a land where you don't know anyone or speak the language. I do occasionally feel like that foreigner with Adam and our life, and I very much appreciate the friends along the way who I've met or been introduced to who help me struggle on.