Couple asking for help for mental health services for young boy

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DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – Crystal and Trenten Laarz are requesting help from the community to help their eight-year-old son Tyson receive more support at the Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.

Crystal Laarz says they first noticed something was “off” when Tyson was only three years old.

“He didn’t seem like your average three-year-old,” Crystal said.

Crystal says they tried to seek help but didn’t get anywhere until he was five years old when an assessment team came up from Prince George, gave him a diagnosis, but didn’t follow up.

Tyson has had multiple trips to the emergency room in Dawson Creek over the past three years for “episodes,” as his mom calls them.

“Our hospital isn’t equipped to deal with children like Tyson in that state,” she said.

The family would be sent home but then return within 24 hours, and this pattern has repeated itself several times.

In November of 2021, Tyson spent four weeks at the Children’s Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder and developmental coordination disorder and showed signs of unspecified anxiety and learning challenges.

Crystal says that once they returned home, there was no support and that the mental health service they went through kept cancelling appointments, which caused issues for Tyson, who needs a consistent routine.

During a recent visit to the Dawson Creek Hospital, the family tried to push for a transfer to BC Children’s Hospital, but they didn’t have the space on such short notice, so the family was sent home without support again.

On the other hand, Crystal says that their family doctor has been “absolutely phenomenal,” and an agency in the Peace region, Haven Family Services, has been helping them advocate for their child.

Trenten, Tyson’s father, has been off work for almost four weeks and is still waiting for EI.

The Child Youth Mental Health has lost applications for the Laarz family two or three times, Crystal and Trenten say.

Each time, they were just told to fill out a new application for help and were put at the bottom of the list.

After two years, they finally got a clinician.

Trenten added that it’s a lack of resources problem in the north.

“We were told that there was nothing else available for us in that there was no services they could offer us up here that would work for a child,” he said.

BC Children’s has been trying to get the family respite help.

“It’s kind of silly how I could go find somebody to take care of my child with mental health, and I could go take care of somebody else’s child and get paid to do it, but I can’t keep my own child, and they can’t take care of their own child and get funding for that,” he explained.

“There’s absolutely no funding for it because he’s not terminally ill.”

The Ministry of Child and Family Development is meeting the family on Tuesday.

After meeting with a team of mental health workers, Tyson’s psychiatrist referred him to the Children’s Hospital in Vancouver for a whole month, starting in July.

Tyson’s whole family has to be there for this program and will be there for at least a month.

Crystal says they are starting their drive on July 2nd.

The family hopes to raise enough money to cover travel expenses, such as transportation and meals.

Tyson wants kids not to feel so alone. The eight-year-old is starting to fight for mental health services for kids.

“All of the other kids, keep fighting for mental health. You’re not alone,” Tyson said.

To donate, visit Tyson’s GoFundMe page.

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