RICHMOND, Va. -- Holden Clay is all the things people use to describe little boys. Cute, adorable and sweet.
But there's something in his DNA that sets him apart from almost every child in the world.
Five years ago, Heather Clay, Holden's mother, wasn't quite ready to give birth.
"It wasn't bad in the beginning. It was actually really normal. At 35 weeks, he stopped growing," Heather said.
Heather was induced and Holden was born weighing just four pounds and five ounces. For a while, that's the weight he stayed.
"He wasn't thriving. I mean, he should have put on some weight. He was just a tiny little baby," Heather said. "He wore preemie clothes for like two months."
Holden has a younger sister who will turn three in February. Seeing the two side-by-side, it would be difficult to tell which child is older.
"She is quite a bit bigger than he is. She looks like she might be older than him. But she's definitely, she's a baby," Heather said.
Five years ago, Holden's parents weren't the only ones looking for answers.
"His pediatrician was like well, you know, he's not really growing, maybe we should look into seeing what might be the hold-up," Heather said.
That's when DNA provided a very unique answer.
"It was like a DNA test between Hunter and I and they compared it and all that and that's when they came up with SHORT syndrome," Heather said.
The syndrome is rare, so rare that Holden is one of 50 known cases.
"There's one other child that we know of that has it and that's because genetic counselors put us in touch with them and that girl is like eight, I think. It's a little girl and she's in California," Heather said.
While short in stature, Holden is like any other young boy with quite a big personality.
"He does any and everything that any other child would do. He just grows slower. Everybody that comes in contact with Holden just loves him to death. He literally makes friends everywhere he goes. He's never met a stranger ever," Heather said.
Holden goes to school, loves to play, has a special place in his heart for gnomes and is obsessed with cars.
SHORT Syndrome comes with some medical challenges that Holden's parents have to look out for.
"We do see an eye doctor every year, just to prevent him from losing his eyesight because that is one thing," Heather said. "Childhood diabetes is a thing that could happen so we monitor that pretty closely too. He doesn't have great teeth."
Holden, though, is holding his own, growing up on his own time.
"Basically, whatever he wants to eat, I'll let him eat it because I just want him to eat, cause really, he's the pickiest child ever," Heather said.
Holden is also surrounded by an enormous amount of love, with his aunt and grandmother living right across the street.
While he may be small, his heart is big, overflowing from love and with love.
One thing Holden's family strives to do is make him feel like just any other five-year-old, not paying any attention to his size.
Because of his big personality, most children don't pay attention to it either.