Collin has lots of these unfamiliar signals. It is very common for people - even people who know him relatively well - to think that he is asleep, that he is yawning, that he is pouting, when he is not. They are just using their own experiences to try to interpret what they are seeing.
Many of the things Collin does, I don't have a clear answer for either. The things I have figured out are from years of close observation and from my Mama powers. But here is a little series on a few of the mystifying things Collin does that we can actually explain.
Why Does Collin: Make That Face?
You know the face. You've seen it in a hundred pictures on this blog by this point. Sometimes it seems clear that it's excitement, sometimes you can't tell if he quite likes whatever is going on. When people see it in person, they often think he is yawning. Because why else would someone open his mouth THAT wide for THAT long?
Think of this as Collin's "Wow Face".
Look at yourself in the mirror and say "wow." Say it like you mean it. Now stop half way through. See? Wow Face.
Some things Collin's Wow Face might mean:
"Wow, that light is bright."
"Wow, that is awesome."
"Wow, that is loud."
"Wow, you scared me."
"Wow, I'm excited."
"Wow, that is way too much."
I get that last one a lot.
Obviously, part of the Wow Face is often rubbing of the ear or bringing his hands up by his face, with some finger-wiggling if things are particularly intense. Sometimes this is a self-calming thing (if it continues once the face is gone), but most of the time it's just part of the gesture, like squinching your eyes when you smile. Try smiling without moving your eyes at all. Weird, right?
So there you go. A small but important piece of the puzzle. Maybe not a corner piece, but definitely an edge piece. Once you can recognize the Wow Face, you have something to build off of in interacting with Collin one-on-one. You can try to figure out what he is saying 'wow' about and either stop it or keep it up.
Is there anything Collin does that you would like interpreted? I can't make any promises that I know the answer either, but I do like to know what other people are curious about.