Patty Douglas looks to the left side away from the camera wearing glasses and a blue shirt.

Patty Douglas

Chair in Student Success and Wellness


Associate Professor of Disability Studies


People Directory Affiliation Category

BA (York University), BEd (Toronto), MA, PhD (Social Justice Education, OISE, University of Toronto)

LinkedIn: Patty Douglas

Twitter: @DougladPatricia @ReStorying

Website: Re-Storying Autism

Patty Douglas (she/they) is a former special education teacher in Ontario and British Columbia and an Associate Professor of Disability Studies in the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University. She is a Senior Research Affiliate at the Re•Vision Centre for Art and Social Justice at the University of Guelph. Her research focuses on rethinking deficit approaches to disability at the intersection of difference in education using critical and creative approaches including disability studies, critical autism studies, mad (m)othering, decolonial studies and arts-based and creative methodologies. Douglas founded and currently leads the Re•Storying Autism in Education project (SSHRC Insight Grant, a multimedia storytelling project in Canada, the UK and Aotearoa (New Zealand) that collaboratively reimagines autism and practice in education and health in ways that centre historically excluded perspectives and affirm and desire difference. As a white settler academic, Douglas is deeply committed to decolonizing research. She identifies as neurodivergent and invisibly disabled. Her monograph, Unmothering Autism: Ethical Disruptions and Affirming Care is in production with UBC Press.

Douglas offers talks, consulting, and professional development for school divisions, educators and practitioners interested in neurodiversity affirming approaches.

Research Interests

  • Disability justice
  • Multimedia storytelling
  • Arts-based and creative research
  • Critical approaches in research
  • Decolonizing disability and autism
  • Neurodiversity affirming practice
  • Critical approaches to (m)othering and care

Current Projects

Re•Storying Autism in Education: Advancing the Cultures and Practices of Inclusion (Principal Investigator) is a participatory multimedia story-making project in Canada, the UK and Aotearoa (New Zealand) collaborating with autistic students, family members, educators, practitioners, artists, and community organizations to rethink and decolonize autism in affirming ways. This project is an Insight Grant funded by the Social Sciences and Research Council of Canada. GRANT NUMBER: 435-2019-0129 (2019-2024) @ReStorying

Mad (M)othering is a UK-Canada research hub on the Re•Storying Autism project challenging the ways in which (m)others of dis/abled children are labelled as, and are made to feel, ‘mad’ in their encounters with the psy-professions (education; psychology and psychiatry). The research uses digital story making as a method of writing back against dominant narratives of education, (m)othering and disability. The research is funded in part by the SSHRCH Insight Grant 435-2019-0129.

Indigenous Approaches to Autism in Education (Principal Investigator) is a multimedia storytelling and narrative interview project holding space for Indigenous understandings of autism and intervening in colonialist ableist school systems. Funded through MITACS with the support of partners Brandon Friendship Centre and Manitoba Métis Federation Southwest.

Tired of Spinning Plates: An Exploration of the Mental Health Experiences of Adults and/or Older Carers of Adults with Learning Disabilities (Co-applicant). The research involves carers, people with learning disabilities and researchers working together. We will use what we find out to produce information for carers and for people with learning disabilities as well as teaching and learning materials for professionals working with carers of adults with learning disabilities. This project is funded by the National Institute of Health and Social Care Research (NIHR) Health and Social Care Delivery Research (HSDR) Project: NIHR135080.

Neurodiversity Matters: An Ethnographic Investigation of Discourse, Practice, and Identity (Co-applicant). What kinds of human diversity do we value? This grant explores how people and documents are currently using the term, concept, and identity of “neurodiversity”. This project is an Insight Development Grant funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. (2019-2022)

Inclusive Early Childhood Service System Project: A Longitudinal Study of Familial Viewpoints of Early Childhood Disability Services (Co-applicant), is an international project investigating family experiences with early childhood disability services. In Brandon, the Brandon Friendship Centre is our formal partner. This project is a Partnership Grant funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. GRANT NUMBER: 165720. (2018-2026)

Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology and Access to Life (Co-applicant), is a project exploring disability art, Deaf art, Mad art, aging and e/Elder art, fat art, and Indigenous art, and access to life. We, the researchers, artists, curators, practitioners, and community members on this grant, explore the relationship between cultivating activist art and achieving social and political justice. This project is a Partnership Grant funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada GRANT NUMBER: 152623 (2016-2024)

Selected Publications

(Full CV)

Peer Reviewed Books

Douglas, P. (Forthcoming). Unmothering autism: Ethical disruptions and affirming care. UBC Press.

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

Runswick-Cole, K., Douglas, P., Fogg, P., Alexander, S., Erhat, S., Eves, J., Shapely-King, B., & I. Wood. (Forthcoming 2024). When father Christmas is the gaslighter. Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies 18 (1).

Balter, A.S., Feltham, L., Parekh, G., Douglas, P., Underwood, K. and T. van Rhijn. (2023). Re-imagining inclusion through the lens of disabled childhoods. Social Inclusion, 11(1), 1-12.

Douglas, P., Runswick-Cole, K., Fogg, P. & S. Ryan. (2022). Making memories, making madness: Mad (m)others of disabled children write back through digital storytelling. Journal on Developmental Disabilities, 27(2), 1-19.

Re•Storying Autism Collective (Douglas, P., Singer, K., Gillespe, E., Liska, S., & S. Peters). (2022). Autistic, surviving and thriving under COVID-19: Imagining Inclusive autistic futures. Lateral: Journal of the Cultural Studies Association, 11(2).

Rice, C., Jones, C. T., Mündel, I., Douglas, P., Fowlie, H., Friedman, M., Harrison, E., Devan Hunter, D., Evadne Kelly, E., Kruth, M. & S. Merrai. (2022). Stretching our stories (SOS): Digital worldmaking in troubled times. Public: Art, Culture, Ideas, 33(66), 154-177.

The Re•Storying Autism Collective (Shields, R., Easton, S., Gruson-Wood, J., Gibson, M. F., Douglas, P. & C. Rice). (2022). Storytelling methods on the move. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education

Douglas, P., Rice, C., Runswick-Cole, K., Easton, A., Gibson, M. F., Gruson-Wood, J., Klar, E. & R. Shields. (2021). Re-storying autism: A body becoming disability studies in education approach. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 25(5), 605-622.

Douglas, P., Runswick-Cole, K., Ryan, S. & P. Fogg. (2021). Mad mothering: Learning from the intersections of madness, mothering and disability. Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, 15(1), 39-56.

Douglas, P. & Martino, A. S. (2020). Foreword: Disability Studies in Education—Critical Conversations. Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, Special Issue on Disability Studies in Education, 9(5), 1-19.

Peer Reviewed Book Chapters

Hodge, N., Douglas, P. & B. Byrne. (2023). Developing the right(s) approach for autism. In A. Beckett and A. Callus (Eds.). Routledge Handbook on Children's Rights & Disability (pp. 242-254). Routledge.

Hodge, N., Douglas, P., Kruth, M., Connolly, S., Martin, N., Gowler, K. & C. Smith. (2022). Contemplating teacher talk through a critical autism studies lens. In D. Milton & S. Ryan (Eds.). The Routledge International Handbook of Critical Autism Studies (pp. 113-128). Routledge.

Creative Outputs

The Re•Storying Autism Collective (Kat Singer, Patty Douglas, Sheryl Peters, Emily Gillespie, Melissa Graham & Maya Vandenbeld Giles). (2022). Autistic, Surviving and Thriving Under COVID-19: Imagining Inclusive Autistic Futures. Zine Exhibit. Crip Strength: Art + Body + Mind. Canadian Museum of Human Rights, 29 October.

The Re•Storying Autism Collective. (Kat Singer, Patty Douglas, Sheryl Peters, Emily Gillespie, Melissa Graham & Maya Vandenbeld Giles). (2022). Autistic, Surviving and Thriving Under COVID-19: Imagining Inclusive Autistic Futures. Zine and Video Exhibit. Tangled Art + Disability Gallery, Toronto ON, September 9-October 21.

Current Courses

Special Topics Course: Storytelling Methods (Fall 2023)