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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 disabled children's perspectives. Also explored opportunities for participation and inclusion in home, school, and community environments.
  • Upon graduation as an occupational therapist, practiced in school-based practice, pediatric community, and adult community contexts.
  • Joined the U of A faculty July 2013.


Co-Director, Supporting Kids Inclusion and Participation (SKIP) Lab, University of Alberta

Adjunct Assistant Professor, John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta

Research Affiliate, Research at the Intersections of Gender (RIG) Initiative, University of Alberta

Academic Member, Women and Children’s Health Research Institute (WCHRI), University of Alberta

Research Affiliate, Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, Alberta Health Services


Research Interests

My program of research focuses on understanding and improving opportunities for participation, inclusion, and *voice for children who experience disability and their families. This program is informed by clinical experience working with children experiencing disability in schools and communities, and a trajectory of research in childhood disability. Within my program I have three main objectives: 1) to re-envision inclusion in the context of child culture and childhood disability; 2) to develop methodological expertise and innovative methods to engage children’s voices in research; and 3) to contribute to theoretical advancements in childhood disability and inclusion by drawing upon critical social theory. Insights garnered from my research program will make a novel contribution to the field of childhood disability and inclusion by using critical disability studies, the new sociology of childhood, and child culture theoretical foundations to re-envision current conceptions of inclusion.

*note that voice in this context represents children’s perspectives and agency in research.

Current Research Initiatives

  • ReEnvisioning inclusion: Exploring child culture with children with disabilities (SSHRC, PI)
  • ReEnvisioning Inclusion: Exploring the (re)production of child culture with children labelled with Autism (WCHRI, PI)
  • The loneliness crisis and the decline of free play: Pathways and effects (SSHRC, Co-I)
  • Disclosing their child’s diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder to others: Family processes and perceived outcomes (WCHRI, Co-PI)



Kassi Boyd, MA

PhD student Rehabilitation Medicine, Research Assistant

Research: Finding where I fit: An exploration of inclusion child-driven culture


Erin Duebel, MSc OT

PhD student Rehabilitation Medicine, Research Assistant

Research: Cultural memory and disability: The case of Eugenics in Alberta


Linda Osae, MSW, RN

PhD student Rehabilitation Medicine, Research Assistant

Research Interests: social determinants of health, health systems and services, sociocultural perspectives, qualitative research


Paige Reeves, MSc OT

PhD student Rehabilitation Medicine, Research Assistant

Research: On the Margins: How adults with intellectual disability negotiate belonging in ableist community spaces


Alex Jackman, MD, FRCPC, General Pediatrics 

Subspecialty Resident, Developmental Pediatrics 

Research: Understanding the family experience of an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnostic conference: A systematic review of qualitative evidence



Meghan Harris, MSc OT

Research Assistant

Research Interests: school-based practice, social inclusion, inclusive education, qualitative research with children and families



Dr. Phelan is the instructor for REHAB 604 Qualitative Inquiry: Philosophical Foundations and Contemporary Approaches, OCCTH 507 Occupation and Society: Theory and Practice, and OCCTH 699 Advanced Topics in Occupational Therapy Research and Practice I & II.