Irish actress Niamh Cusack has become an ambassador for a U.K. autism charity after learning about the disorder during her recent run in the West End.

The star, who is Hollywood hunk Max Irons' aunt, recently appeared in the acclaimed production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which features an autistic lead character.

To research her role as Siobhan, the character's mentor, she visited the young patrons of Ambitious about Autism, and was so moved by her experiences she signed up as a spokesperson for the organisation.

She says, "I’ve had a wonderful time playing Siobhan in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time for the last year. One thing I’ve particularly enjoyed is meeting so many different young people with autism through Ambitious about Autism, including its Youth Patrons.

"Hearing about their experiences has been so inspiring, they have offered me a window into some of the ways people with autism see the world, and deal with it. They are unique and extraordinary people with unique and extraordinary families. This is why I’m delighted to become an Ambassador for Ambitious about Autism. I look forward to continuing to support the vital work the charity does by raising awareness of autism."

In July (13), Cusack helped raise $150,000 (£100,000) for autism charities by appearing in a fundraising gala performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time alongside Jude Law, Dame Helen Mirren, Matt Smith and Chris Martin.