This is a little more complicated than it might seem, so I'll give some back-story.
We have 2 kids:
The oldest, 11, was born to us during my first year of college, and I was only intermittently in the picture due to distance, and relationship instability at that point. He is diagnosed with moderate autism, but is extremely high functioning and has a high IQ. He is fairly creative and has a very good ability to think abstractly. He has a fair number of great qualities, but the negative behavior so dominates daily life that it really overshadows many of the good times daily. He also has significant social-behavior problems, and very poor impulse control, and frequently gets in trouble.
We have a fairly high-stress and contentious relationship with this one. He will not complete any chores without significant involvement by one or both parents; he (quite viciously sometimes) argues just about everything that requires him to do anything other than what he is doing at the moment. This is emotionally taxing and makes it difficult to connect and maintain a connection him.
The youngest, 3, was born to us after we reconciled, had moved in together for about a year or two, and had a stable relationship. He was a relatively early talker, is highly verbal and intelligent. He has his own issues that are hard to deal with, but he has not yet hit the pre-teen argumentative/defiant stage-or anything resembling it.
Currently, the 11-year-old is traveling out-of-state to visit family. My question is, other than taking time to more closely bond with the 3-year-old, and taking time to "recharge", what can actively be done in anticipation of our 11-year-old's return to prepare and, quite honestly, regroup, for a stronger/smarter/more understanding approach?
What I might also be asking, is "what are some good, fresh approaches to use with an argumentative, effort-avoiding, back-talking, smart ass whom I was not fully prepared to (positively) interact with as a parent in the first place"?