Luggage screening abilities in adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Hiu Yan LAU

Research output: ThesisBachelor's Theses


Background: Past research has reported superior visual search performances among individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (Hessels, Hooge, Snijders, Kemner, 2014; Happé & Frith, 2006). Objectives: The current study tests if adolescents with ASD are able to carry out a luggage screening task efficiently. Methods: Seventeen ASD adolescents (mean age= 15.8) and seventeen age-matched typically developing (TD) controls (mean age= 15.7) were recruited. Participants were asked to complete a luggage screening task adapted from the smartphone App, Airport Scanner (Kedlin Company LLC, 2014). In the luggage screening task, there were sixteen conditions resultant of a 2X2X2X2 repeated-measures design. The luggage carriers’ facial expression (a nervous face vs. a calm face); the luggage carriers’ gender (female vs. male); the clutter level of luggage (high-clutter vs. low-clutter) and the presence of a target (absent vs. present) were utilised as independent variables. Participants’ accuracy, response time, level of boredom, and number of extra voluntary trials were recorded for analysis.
Results: Results showed that ASD participants responded with greater accuracy when the carriers looked nervous, as compared to responses within the “calm carrier” condition. ASD participants had less biased performance in different carrier’s gender and facial expression, especially when the luggage was packed. Furthermore, ASD participants were less bored within the longer luggage screening tasks, in comparison to TD participants. In general, ASD participants’ motivation levels were relatively constant and remained high throughout the whole process. In contrast, TD participants rated the tasks to be more boring, especially for the later blocks. Conclusion: Overall, the results of the present study imply that ASD adolescents may be superior in luggage screening with less biased performance and higher motivation level, which implicates that they can be engaged in long and repetitive tasks and may therefore be suited to jobs involving tasks which require sustained attention to visual detail, such as luggage screening. The results of this experiment shed light on the potential strengths of ASD individuals and help promote their career development. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationBachelor of Social Sciences (Honours)
Awarding Institution
  • The Hong Kong Institute of Education
  • WONG, Wai Lap Simpson, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Visual search
  • Luggage screening
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (BSocSc(Psy))--The Hong Kong Institute of Education, 2016.


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