At a very young age, Patrick Washington suffered hearing loss as a result of a slap from an abusive babysitter. It wasn’t until a routine kindergarten screening that torn hearing and balance nerves were diagnosed. By Second Grade, Patrick had decided to become an Ear Doctor, or Audiologist.
Patrick joined Rainbows in March of 2019. He received his Doctorate of Audiology at Wichita State University in 2014 and is clinically certified through the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA). He has been practicing as an Audiologist for 5 years.
“One of my favorite parts of my job is having the opportunity to educate or support families about the health of the ear or hearing loss,” said Patrick, Rainbows’ Early Intervention Audiologist. “Because of the physical development of the ear, children 0-3 years may already be at risk for ear infections or build up of fluid. I try to educate parents and provide knowledge of what to look for with their child. I want parents to be informed and have the best education possible so they are comfortable and confident knowing the proper questions to ask their doctors.”
“Patrick Washington has a passion for educating people about hearing loss,” said Alexia Foster, Infant/Toddler Services Coordinator. “This is evident in the way he interacts with families and with co-workers. He takes time to explain in detail all aspects of hearing loss to ensure that the listener, whether a parent or a staff member, walks away with knowledge and an increased confidence in their understanding of hearing loss.”
With infants and toddlers, Patrick uses a combination of tools to help assess hearing health. “I employ screening protocols when testing a young child at home. When testing a child in our audiology booth, I employ a behavior evaluation while using visual observation at the same time. I present different intensities of tones and watch for the child’s reaction/response. Sometimes the child will behaviorally respond differently, such as turning their head, widening their eyes, laughing or crying. When the child reacts, I follow with positive reinforcement.”
When evaluating the health of the ear, Patrick uses instruments that measure the functionality of the eardrum and lets him know if the cochlea is healthy. He checks to make sure nothing is in the ear canal, there is no fluid behind the ear drum and there is no infection. Ear tubes are one of the most important, most asked about issues for parents. “I provide education and support for families, explaining the process, what to expect, and how tubes are involved in ear health.”
Patrick also educates and coaches parents whose children have hearing devices, helping them overcome even the “little things” like helping their child keep the device in his ear. “I enjoy hearing from my co-workers that their families really appreciate the time and effort I give to help their families understand about hearing health and what I can provide for them during their Rainbows’ journey,” he said. “Also, I love working with the other therapists and learning about their professional expertise, which helps me become a better provider.”
“This morning I held a phone appointment with Mr. Patrick and one of my families to address parental concerns with their child’s mapping appointment being deemed a nonessential service and the child’s new behavior of not wanting to wear implants,” said Kelly Welch, Speech Language Pathologist. “I am so thankful that Rainbows invited Patrick to our team. His calm demeanor, patience, ability to carefully listen to parents, and ability to turn a negative situation into a positive experience for both the child and parents is a beautiful thing to witness. He has a way of saying what needs to be said, yet delivering it in a way that is easy to hear.”
Providing audiology services during a pandemic is a challenge, but Rainbows has adapted. “Currently I am providing services to our hearing impaired children through Skype or phone calls,” said Patrick. “I also provide support (through Skype/phone calls) with our other families if they have questions regarding hearing or ear health.”
Patrick and his twin brother were born and raised by their mother here in Wichita. “I love going to movies, exercise and do dance choreography to hip hop and pop music,” said Patrick. “I am a 90s kid, so many of my coworkers will see me wearing 90s cartoons t-shirts. I am big WWE fan and love watching Spurs and Shockers basketball.”