Matt Stapleton: We're So Lucky My Daughter Is Alive
07/06/2014 AT 04:25 PM EDT
"Cake!" she blurts out in a loud, firm voice that would intimidate if it weren't her normal tone.
"She has a sweet tooth – she gets that from her dad," says Matt Stapleton.
He watches as his 15-year-old, who has autism, delicately cracks three eggs, adds them to a mixing bowl, then licks the chocolate batter.
Later, when Matt says it's time to walk to the post office – a task Issy knows from the written schedule that keeps her on track – she counters, "Drive to post office."
Matt repeats "walk."
"Drive!" Issy demands.
She hits her head twice, throws a water bottle, hurls a pan of corn cooling on the stove, then looks for a reaction.
Matt pretends nothing happened. "Okay, it's time to walk to the post office," he says calmly.
After nearly losing his daughter for good, he views even these violent outbursts as a gift.