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Local author with developmental disabilities publishes first book after years of hard work

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The original copy of Robbie Cosner's 46-chapter book was handwritten in a notebook

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – March is Developmental Disability Awareness Month, which highlights how important those with disabilities are to our community. One Youngstown man is overcoming the odds by publishing his first book.

Robbie Cosner, 25, is proof that no circumstance should come between you and your dreams.

The original copy of Robbie’s newly-published book, Robbie: Two Evils and Two Evil Creations, is written in a notebook.

“It’s a fiction story,” he said. “It’s an adventure story.”

Robbie has a developmental disability but that never stopped him. He always loved reading and drawing, but he knew he could do more with his imagination.

“I just started writing my own book,” he said.

Robbie said he failed more than once but after nearly two years of hard work, he finished — having handwritten the 46 chapters.

“It was just fun,” Robbie said. “I get to write my own first book for the first time.”

The Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities (MCBDD) connected him with Siffrin, which helps people with disabilities find opportunities and learn their potential.

Through those programs, Robbie was able to share his book with Dr. Uma Krishnan at Kent State University Trumbull. She and her grad students edited and will publish the book as part of their program.

“It’s amazing,” said Lauren Shaffer, Siffrin community integration manager at Kent State Trumbull. “It’s honestly inspirational.”

Lauren watched Robbie publish his book from start to finish. She said his success is what it’s all about, recognizing the potential of people who have developmental disabilities.

“There are parts of their brain that are creative beyond anyone’s understanding,” Lauren said. “You really have to tap in and find that, and figure it out and work on that and be consistent with it.”

Robbie’s mom, Donna Sallaz, said she couldn’t be prouder of what her son represents.

“It doesn’t matter. Everybody has an ability. Use your ability you have to succeed and you can go far.”

Although Robbie is close with his mother, his legal guardian is with the Help Network of Northeast Ohio, which has helped him move into a place of his own and thrive in his programs as an independent adult. You can find more information about the Help Network online.

Robbie is proof nothing can hold anyone back from living their full potential.

“Don’t give up. Think of good ideas,” he said. “Don’t be afraid of what you want to do.”

Robbie said he is already working on the sequel to his book. It will be called Robbie 2: The Story Comes to Life.

Right now, the MCBDD serves 1,500 individuals and their families in Mahoning County through 50 caseworkers.

According to the MCBDD, it is mostly supported by a levy. This fall, it has a renewal for 3 mils. Another renewal will be on the ballot in fall 2021 for 2 mils. Each mil brings in about $4 million.

To find out more or to see if you or a loved one are eligible for the MCBDD’s services, check out the organization’s website.

You can donate to Siffrin online.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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