Shanon Phelan

Associate Professor

Phone: 902-494-2557
Mailing Address: 
Room 326, Forrest Building, 5869 University Avenue PO Box 15000, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 4R2
Research Topics:
  • Critical Disability Theory
  • Child/Youth Culture
  • Child and Family Experiences of Disability
  • Inclusion
  • Belonging
  • Loneliness
  • Play and Risk Discourses
  • Inclusive Education
  • Critical Disability and Rehabilitation
  • Critical Reflexivity and Ethics
  • Qualitative Research Methodologies and Methods


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

Selected Publications

Phelan, S.K., & Reeves, P. (2021). (Re)Imagining inclusion in ways that foster belonging in the lives of disabled children and youth. The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, Advance Online. DOI:

Moore, S.A. & Phelan, S.K. (2021). Using longitudinal trajectories and reference percentiles for participation in activities for children with disabilities: An evidence to practice commentary. Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics, 41(1), 38-43. DOI: 10.1080/01942638.2021.1853440.

*Reeves, P., Ng, S., *Harris, M., & Phelan, S.K. (2020). The exclusionary effects of inclusion today: (Re)production of disability in inclusive education settings. Disability & Society, Advance Online, 1-25. DOI:10.1080/09687599.2020.1828042.

Ng, S., Mylopoulos, M., Kangasjarvi, E., Boyd, V., Teles, S., Lingard, L., Orsino, A., & Phelan, S.K. (2020). Critically reflective practice and its sources: A qualitative exploration. Medical Education, 54(4), 312-319. DOI: 10.1111/medu.14032.

Pritchard, L., Phelan, S.K., McKillop, A., & Anderson, J. (2020). Child, parent, and clinician experiences with a child-driven goal setting approach in paediatric rehabilitation. Disability and Rehabilitation, Advance Online, 1-8. DOI: 10.1080/09638288.2020.1788178.

Research Interests

Current Research Initiatives

  • Equitable access to inclusive childcare and early childhood education for disabled children: The family experience (Employment and Social Development Canada, PI)
  • ReEnvisioning Inclusion: Exploring child culture with children who experience disability (SSHRC, PI)
  • ReEnvisioning Inclusion: Exploring the (re)production of child culture with children labelled with Autism (Women and Children’s Health Research Institute, PI)
  • The loneliness crisis and the decline of free play: Pathways and effects (SSHRC, Co-I)

Dr. Shanon Phelan’s program of research focuses on understanding and improving opportunities for inclusion, belonging, and voice for children and youth who experience disability and their families. This program is informed by clinical experience working with children and families experiencing disability in schools and communities, and a trajectory of research in childhood disability. Within her program she has 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 child and youth voices in research; and 3) to contribute to theoretical advancements in childhood disability and inclusion. Dr. Phelan uses a disability justice approach and draws heavily on critical disability and feminist theories to illuminate inequities and injustices experienced by the disability community.

Dr. Phelan is accepting PhD and Masters students interested in intersections of child culture, disability, inclusion and belonging; child, adolescent and family experiences of disability; critical qualitative research; and critical disability studies. Potential students are invited to contact her by email.