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Shanon Phelan, PhD, MSc, BSc

Assistant Professor

Rehabilitation Medicine

Occupational Therapy

About Me


Post-doctoral Fellowship- Childhood Disability- Bloorview Research Institute, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital- 2012-2013

PhD- Health and Rehabilitation Sciences- Western University- 2012

MSc- Occupational Therapy- Western University- 2005

BSc Human Kinetics- University of Guelph- 2002

Background Information

  • Post-doctoral research examined intersections of disability, normalization, rehabilitation, and technology through the lens of critical social theory.
  • PhD Dissertation examined socio-cultural dimensions of occupation and identity from both parents’ and children with disabilities’ perspectives. Also explored opportunities for participation and inclusion in home, school, and community environments.
  • Upon graduation as an occupational therapist, practiced in school health, pediatric community, and adult community contexts.
  • Joined the U of A faculty July 2013.


Research Interests

Dr. Phelan’s program of research focuses on understanding and improving participation, inclusion, and social justice for children with disabilities and their families. Dr. Phelan is also interested in disability studies, child culture, research and professional ethics, and constructions of childhood, disability and identity. She engages qualitative social scientific approaches to achieve her research objectives including innovative reflexive and visual methods that promote ethics and integrity in research with children. 

Dr. Phelan is co-director (with Dr. Sandy Hodgetts) of the Supporting Kids Inclusion & Participation (S.K.I.P.) Lab in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta. Dr. Phelan is a research affiliate at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital and an Assistant Adjunct Professor at the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre, University of Alberta.

Current Research Initiatives

  • Social Inclusion, participation, and disability: Socio-cultural factors shaping opportunities for engagement in childhood occupations
  • Integrated systems and team working for children with disabilities: An institutional ethnography of health professional practice in the special education context
  • Disclosing their child’s diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder to others: Family processes and perceived outcomes 
  • Intersections of disability, technology, and rehabilitation: Examining expectations, experiences and identities walking with the Lokomat Pro
  • Engaging children with disabilities as co-researchers: Innovation in methodology and methods


Dr. Phelan is the instructor for OCCTH 507 Occupation and Society: Theory and Practice.