Debate over blue lights for autism in West Boca

Posted at 4:56 PM, Apr 07, 2016

You’ve probably seen blue lights lit up all over South Florida. It’s part of Autism Awareness Month.

A West Boca Raton man said supporting the cause isn’t as easy as switching a light bulb.

Stuart Tolman said couldn't believe the letter he received from his Home Owners Association.

“In bold letters, replace blue light bulbs,” Tolman said.

The father of two lives in Boca Winds. He said he has a close connection to autism and he wants to help raise awareness.

“I’ve noticed most people don't know how to handle autistic people and they need to be aware,” Tolman explained.

He bought blue lights through a promotion that's raising money for the cause. He installed two of them on either side of his garage outside his house.

Two days later, the letter came from his HOA. It said the lights had to go, but it didn't list a specific bylaw or reason why.

“To me that was totally insensitive and ignorant,” Tolman said.

NewsChannel 5 asked the Boca Winds HOA about the issue. The president said not everyone knew what the blue lights stand for. After we explained things, they decided to let Tolman keep his lights right where they are.

“It's a good move they're allowing him to leave it up. I'm surprised they even wanted to take it down,” said neighbor Al Cinotti.

Tolman thinks his neighborhood will be better off with the lights on.

“The blue sticks out so somebody coming by, passing by, will see it and go, ‘Gee, that's nice, what is that for,’” he explained.

Here's some advice from the Boca Winds HOA president which could apply to a lot of other communities: Give the HOA board a head's up before doing something like putting blue lights on your home.