Elinor Carucci
Jeff Truesdell
July 06, 2014 04:25 PM

Issy Stapleton is baking.

“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.

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