MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Jan. 3, 2005) — At a time of spiraling health care costs, speech therapy is one free benefit many parents can appreciate. If your child stutters, he or she may be eligible for free speech therapy in school.

Under federal law, public and private schools must provide special education services such as speech therapy to children, even preschoolers, who need them. "Unfortunately, many parents aren't aware that this free resource exists and that it can save them hundreds of dollars in health care costs," said Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation. “Stuttering therapy may not be covered by employer-based health insurance either," she added.

The Stuttering Foundation recently published a new brochure, Special Education Law and Stuttering, which explains how parents can obtain speech therapy for a child through the school system. It takes some of the mystery out of the process by explaining how schools evaluate a child's special needs and suggests what parents can do if they disagree with the outcome.

"The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and parents who understand the system and are persistent can get the help they need," says Fraser.

Because guidelines vary from one school district to another, there's no guarantee that every child who stutters will receive free help. That's because most schools base the need on the severity of the stuttering problem; those with mild symptoms may not be entitled to free

"If you don't get the help your child needs from the school, don't wait for the problem to get worse," says Lisa Scott, Ph.D., of Florida State University. “The Stuttering Foundation can help you find a therapist near you. It is important to get help for your child early to minimize the long term effects of stuttering.”

For a free copy of Special Education Law and Stuttering (view/download the PDF here) and list of therapists, call The Stuttering Foundation helpline at 800-992-9392 or visit The Stuttering Foundation also offers other resources for parents and children, including books, DVDs, and other brochures.