With a deep breath and a calm touch, occupational therapist Andrea Ball helps children connect with their emotions.

“Andrea has done an amazing work with my kids,” Shelley Surface said, “It’s common language for us to say, ‘okay, you’re, you seem to be on yellow, let’s see what can we do,’ and they’ll say, ‘take a deep breath.’ And so we do a lot of deep breathing. Everybody does.”

It’s no surprise Shelley needs to take a few deep breaths. She and her husband have six kids, two biological and four adopted. They’ve also fostered 27 children in their home over the years. Many of them have attended Play Ball Children’s Therapy with Andrea and other therapists at the practice, who specialize in speech, feeding, and physical therapy.

“She has really just wrapped around foster families, adoptive families, and families of children with special needs; that makes her a super special person,” Shelley said. “She always greets you with a smile, and she always has such a gentle, tender spirit with kids that are not the easiest kids in the world to work with. When you see somebody who sees them for who they are, in the depths of their being, and loves them and appreciates them for who they are, it’s just is just so life-giving.”

“What I love about occupational therapy is that it’s such a holistic profession,” Andrea Ball said. “We’re able to work with adults, children, any age, any population, any needs, based on their occupations, which are meaningful roles in your life.”

Andrea started her occupational therapy career in home health and nursing homes. Then she worked for Metro Nashville Public Schools for seven years. She felt a calling to serve children in their natural setting, so she formed Play Ball Children’s Therapy in 2011. It continued to grow, and in 2016, they turned a quaint house in Hendersonville into a home away from home for many Middle Tennessee families.

“What I love about my job is that parents are vulnerable with me, but I’m also vulnerable with them. So it’s a connection. It’s a connectedness that we all share together,” Andrea said.

Andrea is also certified as a mindfulness professional. She hosts workshops and often teaches other health care providers. She also served as a community educator for the Vanderbilt Sleep Disorders Center to help families of children with autism.

Faith and family are her cornerstones. Andrea and her husband are parents to three boys and two pups, including Peppa who is a fan favorite at play ball. Andrea thrives on seeing the progress children make in therapy and what it means to their families.

“It’s what gives me that drive to keep wanting to come every day and help because I grow from my families,” Andrea said. “It’s an interconnectedness that I love.”