Eric Wankerl is probably nobody’s idea of a swaggering jock, but when Paige Marquardt caught his eye on a Minnesota basketball court in 2013, he didn’t hesitate to let her know he was curious.

“He asked me 20 questions,” Ms. Marquardt said. “He wanted to know a lot about me, how old I was and all that.”

Given the setting — a Special Olympics tournament — he already knew at least one thing about Ms. Marquardt. Like him, she has a disability. He thought they might have more in common. Maybe she, too, was a Minnesota Twins fan, or maybe she would like to be his friend.

Mr. Wankerl, of Spicer, Minn., is 31. When he was a toddler, his parents were told he would have diminished intellectual capacity. His mother, Paula Bredberg, a business development planner for a tour company, remembers the advice handed out by a small army of test administrators and specialists she and Mr. Wankerl’s father, Rich Wankerl, had consulted in the early 1990s.

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