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'Criminal Minds' Star Joe Mantegna Reveals The Reality Of Raising An Autistic Child

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Joe Mantegna has been a staple on Criminal Minds for over ten years, and in that time, we've grown to love him like a part of our family. He's always looking out for the team, acting as somewhat of a father figure for the entire BAU team.

CBS

But unlike many actors who are completely different from their on-screen characters, Mantegna is also a doting father in his everyday life. He and his wife, Arlene, have two daughters together, Gina and Mia. When their daughter Mia was born, they knew immediately she would be different and would have to fight.

Mia was born via emergency C-section because of an infection in the umbilical cord. Her premature birth left Mia weighing just 1lb 5oz.

"She was a very strong little girl,” recalled Mantegna. “I saw babies of much higher birth weight do much worse for some reason and not survive.”

As they watched their daughter grow, neither Joe nor Arlene noticed anything particularly off. However, while Joe was shooting Godfather III in New York, they had a chance to watch Mia interact with other kids. This is when they realized that something was off. Mia's speech wasn't at the same level as the other kids, and she had problems focusing. Of course, the couple had been warned that since Mia was a premie, she may have lung problems or poor eye sight, but this was different.

It was time to see a neurologist.

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